New Zealand bans semi-automatic rifles, accessories, 6 days after Christchurch mosque shootings

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Arnden at press conference
(Image credit: David Lintott/AFP/Getty Images)

Less than a week after a gunman murdered at least 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern effectively banned the sale of AR-15s and all similar assault rifles Thursday afternoon. "Six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand," Ardern said. "Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines."

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These changes will require legislation, and Ardern said she expects the bans to be enshrined in law by April 11, with a buy-back program put in place afterward. In the meantime, the government has immediately reclassified "virtually all" of the weapons she mentioned so buying them now require a special permit from the police. "I can assure people that there is no point in applying for such a permit," Ardern added.

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"I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride," Ardern said. She got immediate backing from the trade group Federated Farmers, which said "this will not be popular among some of our members, but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution."

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Australia banned semi-automatic weapons after a 1996 mass shooting in which a gunman with an AR-15 murdered 35 people.

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