New Zealand bans assault weapons within days of massacre
New Zealand imposed a ban on assault weapons on March 21, moving swiftly following the Christchurch massacre and triggering renewed calls from leading American politicians for gun controls in the United States.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons were now banned with immediate effect, making good on a pledge to the country of the military-style weapons used in last week's slaughter of 50 people.
The killings at two Christchurch mosques by an Australian white supremacist have caused national soul-searching over New Zealand's lax gun laws.
But the crackdown promises to have political repercussions beyond the country's shores, including in the United States where gun control is one of the most divisive national political issues.
She added that high-capacity magazines and devices similar to bump stocks- which allow users to fire weapons faster - will also be banned.
Proponents of gun control in the United States and around the world praised the move and denounced the powerful U.S. pro-gun lobby on social media, while American gun supporters defended their constitutional right to bear arms.
Accused shooter Brenton Tarrant livestreamed the carnage in real-time, sparking worldwide revulsion and concern over access to guns and the use of social media by extremists.
Tarrant had written that he planned to use firearms for his attacks to encourage U.S. gun control advocates to push for curbs, thus tearing open the bitter political debate.
"This attempted abolishment of rights by the left will result in a dramatic polarization of the people in the United States and eventually a fracturing of the U.S. along cultural and racial lines," he wrote.
New Zealand's ban includes interim measures to prevent a run on such guns before legislation is enacted and outlawing weapons already in private possession.
Guns are to be handed in and destroyed via a buyback scheme that will cost between Nz$100 million and $200 million (between US$69 million and $139 million), depending on how many are received and their valuations.
In the meantime, people formed a chain behind members of the Muslim community as they prayed near Al Noor mosque on March 20, which was one of the two mosques targeted in the attack.