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.

Just Posted

BC Transit considers rural bus routes in the Alberni Valley

Sproat Lake, Cherry Creek, Beaver Creek could see service

UPDATED: Wildfire burning near Taylor Flats in the Alberni Valley

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

Alberni high school builds community with new mural

Mural was painted by students, Nuu-chah-nulth education workers

Port Alberni youth breaks neck in riverbank accident

Fundraiser has been set up for youth and his family

Port Alberni’s high school gets a rainbow crosswalk for Pride Day

Students and staff at Alberni District Secondary School celebrated the official opening… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read