FILE - In this March 17, 2019, file photo, a girl carries flowers to a memorial wall following the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. New Zealand’s parliament on Wednesday passed sweeping gun laws which outlaw military-style weapons, less than a month after the nation’s worst mass shooting left 50 dead and 39 wounded in two mosques in the South Island city of Christchurch. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)

New Zealand Parliament votes to ban semi-automatic weapons

The move comes less than a month after a Christchurch mosque shooting that left 50 dead

New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday passed sweeping gun laws that outlaw military style weapons, less than a month after mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch left 50 people dead and dozens wounded.

A bill outlawing most automatic and semi-automatic weapons and banning components that modify existing weapons was passed by a vote of 119 to 1 in the House of Representatives after an accelerated process of debate and public submission.

The bill needs only the approval of New Zealand’s governor general, a formality, before becoming law on Friday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke emotionally during the bill’s final reading of the traumatic injuries suffered by victims of the March 15 attacks, whom she visited in Christchurch Hospital after the shootings.

“I struggle to recall any single gunshot wounds,” Ardern said. “In every case they spoke of multiple injuries, multiple debilitating injuries that deemed it impossible for them to recover in days, let alone weeks. They will carry disabilities for a lifetime, and that’s before you consider the psychological impact. We are here for them.”

“I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could be obtained legally in this country,” she said.

A 28-year-old Australian man, Brenton Tarrant, has been charged in the attacks.

READ MORE: At memorial, mosque shooting survivor says he forgives attacker

READ MORE: 50 murder counts filed on New Zealand mosque attack suspect

Ardern, who has won international praise for her compassion and leadership since the shootings, was able to win rare bi-partisan support for a bill that makes it illegal to own a military-style semi-automatic rifle. The only dissenting voice was from the libertarian ACT Party, which has one lawmaker in Parliament.

The law includes a buy-back scheme under which owners of outlawed weapons can surrender them to police in return for compensation based on the weapon’s age and condition.

Anyone who retains such a weapon after the law formally passes on Friday faces a penalty of up to five years in prison. Some exemptions have been allowed for heirloom weapons held by collectors or for professional pest control.

Ardern said lawmakers had a responsibility to act on behalf of victims of the shootings.

“We are ultimately here because 50 people died and they do not have a voice,” she said. “We in this house are their voice. Today we can use that voice wisely.”

“We are here just 26 days after the most devastating terrorist attacks created the darkest of days in New Zealand’s history,” she said. “We are here as an almost entirely united Parliament. There have been very few occasions when I have seen Parliament come together in this way and I cannot imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now.”

Ardern said that there was some opposition from firearms owners, but that the response to the proposed legislation was overwhelmingly positive.

“My question here is simple,” she said. “You either believe that here in New Zealand these weapons have a place or you do not. If you believe, like us, that they do not, you should be able to believe we can move swiftly. “An argument about process is an argument to do nothing.”

Steve McMorran, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

VIDEO: Green Coast offers free kayaking to Haida Gwaii residents

First “pop-up paddle” held Monday, May 25; free community paddles expected to continue weekly

DFO allowing at-sea observers again if safe work procedures in place

May 15 fishery notice lays out conditions for allowing at-sea observers onboard amid COVID-19

Artist-biologist duo that contributed to conservation on Haida Gwaii wins award

Aleta Karstad, Dr. Fred Schueler win prize for conservation efforts, including Cumshewa Head area

CHN, province reach ‘milestone’ tree cutting agreement, reducing annual cut by 13%

Haida Gwaii Management Council has determined new allowable annual cut of 804,000 cubic metres

VIDEO: Bear catches ‘rascally rabbit’ for breakfast near Whistler bus stop

The brief encounter of the bear hunting its meal has gone viral

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. drive-in theatre shuts down to await appeal of car limits, concession rules

Business owner Jay Daulat voluntarily closed down the theatre awaiting a health ministry decision

Huawei executive loses court ruling, extradition case continues

Judge says allegations against Meng Wanzhou could constitute a crime in Canada

Cross-border business interests call for joint Canada, U.S. post-COVID effort

Expanding market opportunities in both countries would speed recovery efforts, says the Canadian American Business Council

Most Read