Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Gun law change: 'One of the most important pieces of legislation'

Gun law change: 'One of the most important pieces of legislation'

During the debate Wednesday prime minister Jacinda Ardern told parliamentarians she "vividly" recalled the moment after the massacre when she, without consulting widely, decided the government had to act.

The law includes a buy-back scheme under which owners of outlawed weapons can surrender them to police by September 30 in return for compensation based on the weapon's age and condition.

Citizens in possession of banned guns will be granted a six-month buyback period, after which they will be subject to five years in prison if they remain in possession of prohibited weapons. "We have used that voice wisely", she said to applause from lawmakers.

The law will now need royal approval, in practice a rubber stamp, which is expected to take place on Thursday, paving the way for the rules to enter into force the next day. Licensed dealers, pest controllers and "bona fide collectors" will also enjoy "narrow exceptions" to the ban.

Tarrant is alleged to have made illegal modifications, using high-capacity magazines, effectively turning the weapons into military-style semi-automatics.

The passage of the bill brings to an end the first phase of gun law reform, which has seen emotional pleas in support of the law from the Muslim community, broad support from hunters and farmers who sought wider exemptions to the ban, and vociferous opposition from gun lobby groups that claimed the ban was too harsh on law-abiding gun owners.

"Our gun laws as they are mean it is very hard for us to quantify just how many of those weapons precisely are in circulation".

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Ardern told the House about a briefing she had with Police Commissioner Mike Bush shortly after the terror attack on March 15, when he told her the gunman had obtained his firepower legally.

"If a significant number of weapons aren't handed in, we risk creating a large black market of unsafe weapons without any regulatory oversight. I can not imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now", she said, according to Radio New Zealand.

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

"To the families of our missing 50 and those who were injured, I trust you will look at us as an institution and say we delivered here today".

"My question here is simple", she said.

The legislation passed nearly unanimously, with David Seymour, the leader of the center-right party Act, the only lawmaker to oppose the Arms Amendment Bill, which won approval on its third reading.

"I am in support of changing our gun laws, but it is impossible for anyone of good conscience to support this bill, the way it's been brought about and the problems with it that will make our society more risky than we had on 15 March", he said.

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