New Zealand passes gun law reform in wake of Christchurch attack
10 April 2019| 04 Shabaan 1440| Al Jazeera
New Zealand’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation to ban semi-automatic and military-style weapons.
The changes were first proposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just days after a gunman carried out an indiscriminate shooting spree in two Christchurch mosques, killing 50 Muslims.
“We are here because of them, and I believe they are here with us, supporting what we are doing here because these weapons were designed to kill, and they were designed to maim and that is what they did on the 15th of March,” Ardern told parliament on Wednesday.
The gun reform bill also enacts a ban on pump action shotguns with detachable and non-detachable magazines and parts that enable firearms to be converted into more powerful weapons.
Just one of the of 120 members of parliament opposed the legislation, called The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazine and parts) Amendment Bill.
Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant, the self-confessed white supremacist charged over the mosque attacks, purchased his weapons legally online and modified their capacity by using 30-round magazines.
He held an A category gun licence, the standard licence for gun owners in New Zealand.
“I cannot fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could have been obtained legally in this country,” Ardern 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 can not imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now,” she added.
‘THE FIRST STEP’
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the new law is “just the first step of many to make our country safer”.
The bill still needs to be granted Royal Assent by the governor-general of New Zealand, seen as a formality, and is expected to officially pass into law on Friday, exactly four weeks after the attacks.
The legislation has been pushed through in under two weeks, with gun owners given just one day to make oral submissions on the fast-tracked laws.
More than 13,000 New Zealanders provided written submissions on reforming The Arms Amendment Bill which were considered by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.
It recommended only minor changes with Chairperson Michael Wood revealing around 60 percent of the submissions were in favour.
The president of the Islamic Association of New Zealand, Mustafa Farouk, said the speed with which the legislation was passed was necessary to honour the victims of the country’s worst-ever attack.
“It tells our community that our government took what happened in Christchurch seriously. The laws also are part of telling the families of the victims that they will get justice.”
Farouk told Al Jazeera: “New Zealand is showing the world that the interest of wider society is greater than individuals’ or lobbyists’. Other countries can borrow a leaf from New Zealand regarding how to create a cross-party agreement and expedite passing such legislations.”
New Zealand has around 250,000 licenced firearm owners, many of them farmers who use weapons to help eradicate pests.