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New Zealand prime minister announces semi-automatic weapons ban after Christchurch attack


'This is just the beginning of the work we need to do'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a press conference at the Justice and Emergency Services precinct on March 20, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all "military-style semi-automatic weapons" Thursday as a result of a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch last week, according to The Guardian.

The ban will officially take effect at 3 p.m. local time Thursday, at which point Ardern said sales of banned weapons should end and the guns should be returned by retailers to suppliers.

"Today I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons," Ardern said. "We will also ban all assault rifles. We will ban high capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semi-automatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semi-automatic weapon. We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic or close to automatic gunfire.

"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in the country," she said.

What about legal owners of these weapons?

Ardern said legal owners of banned weapons will have the opportunity to get "fair and reasonable compensation" through a buyback program.

"The estimate that has been made by officials is that the buyback could cost anywhere between $100 million and $200 million. But that is the price that we must pay to ensure the safety of our communities," Ardern said.

How do they define 'military-style?'

According to a Q&A from the prime minister's office, a "military-style semi-automatic" weapon includes "a semi-automatic firearm capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges" and "a semi-automatic shotgun capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges."

The ban does not include "semi-automatic .22 caliber rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than 10 rounds" or "semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds."

Ardern admitted she had no idea how many now-banned weapons are in the country.

"We're very much in the dark as to how many of these are in circulation," Ardern said.

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