New Zealand to Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Guns, Jacinda Ardern Says

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a national ban on all military-style semiautomatic weapons, all high-capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns used to kill 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

“What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” she said, adding: “It’s about all of us, it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Ms. Ardern is expected to encounter little resistance in Parliament to the weapons ban.

Ms. Ardern said her goal was to eliminate from New Zealand the weapons that the killer used in Christchurch. She emphasized that it will require a mix of regulation around both firearms and ammunition.

“The guns used in these terrorist attacks had important distinguishing features,” she said at a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, the capital. “First, big capacity, and also their delivery. They had the power to shoot continuously but they also had large capacity magazines.”

[Read more about the victims of the attack, who spanned generations and nationalities.]

Chris Cahill, president of the Police Association, the union representing the nation’s police officers, praised Ms. Ardern’s plan, saying his group had been calling for such measures for years.

“This addresses the key concerns we have,” he said. “It’s hitting those military-style semiautomatics. It’s exactly what we wanted.”

Her swift action comes as Christchurch has begun holding the first burials of those who died in the massacre, a burst of violence that has forced New Zealand to examine its culture of weapons and the extremist vitriol on its social media.

“Today, I’m announcing New Zealand will ban all military-style semiautomatic weapons,” she said in outlining the changes. “We will also ban all assault rifles, we will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semiautomatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semiautomatic weapon.”

“We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semiautomatic, automatic or close-to-automatic gunfire,” she added. “In short, every semiautomatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned in this country.”

Ms. Ardern said she expected the new law to be in place by April 11, with the next session of Parliament.

In the interim, as of Thursday afternoon, a change in regulations would alter the licensing rules for the weapons that would eventually be banned, meaning they would require an E Class gun license, which is already much harder to obtain, and that the prime minister said would now be impossible to get.

“I can assure people there is no point in applying for such a permit,” she said.

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