New Zealand Parliament approves amendment of arms laws after Christchurch attack

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — All but one of the New Zealand parliamentarians on Wednesday backed an amendment to weapons laws less than a month after the country’s worst-ever shooting in peacetime. The attack on two Christchurch mosques killed 50 people.

Nineteen members voted in favor of a bill to make the first major amendments to New Zealand arms laws decades ago. The bill must now be ratified by the Governor-General before it becomes law. The bill was opposed by one member.

When introducing this legislation, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardenne said, “There are very few occasions in which I have seen Parliament agree to this extent, and I can not imagine more important circumstances (than we are).”

Just six days after the March 15 attack, Ardern banned the sale of all semi-automatic assault rifles, such as the one used by the military, and announced plans to enforce tougher weapons laws.

One gunman used semi-automatic weapons in the attack on Christchurch’s mosques, killing 50 people during Friday prayers.

The authorities have charged 50 counts of murder to Brenton Tarant, 28, believed to believe in white race, after the attack.

The new restrictions prohibit the circulation and use of most types of semi-automatic firearms and pieces that convert firearms into semiautomatic weapons, ballistic tanks that exceed certain capacity and some types of hunting rifles.

The bill grants an amnesty to those who hand over their banned weapons until September 30. Interior Minister Stuart Nash told parliament that more than 300 weapons had been delivered so far.

He added that the government began work on another draft amendments to the laws of weapons in the hope of submission in June next, pointing out that this action is related to a record of weapons and other matters.

The prime minister said the majority of parliamentarians believed there was no place for such weapons in New Zealand.

“We are here in the end because 50 people have died and no vote … We, in this Council, have voted. Today we used this voice wisely.”

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