Christchurch shooting

New Zealand Bans Military Style Semi-Automatics and Assault Rifles Less Than a Week After Attacks

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”
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Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 18, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo from Getty

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced stronger new gun laws that will ban military style semi-automatics (MSSAs) and assault rifles on Thursday, March 21—just six days after twin shootings in mosques killed 50. In a statement, she said, “On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”

The New Zealand government’s actions on the issue have been incredibly swift: Ardern’s cabinet first met 72 hours after the Christchurch attack, and then the ban was announced less than a week later. She went on to note: “An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in, and Cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme. Further details will be announced on the buyback in due course.” The ban will also cover high-capacity magazines and related parts that allow users to convert other guns into MSSAs.


The legislation will be introduced into parliament in the first week of April, with amendments to the Arms Act expected to be passed in the next session of parliament. Until then, Ardern stated “the Government will take immediate action today to restrict the potential stock-piling of these guns and encourage people to continue to surrender their firearms.”

The changes will take into consideration members of the public with a legitimate need to possess firearms— such as for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting.

Referring to these individuals, Ardern noted: “To owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you, and are not directed at you. Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”

New Zealand’s response on this issue has been globally praised. “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,” reflected the Prime Minister.

These changes have been marked as the first part of an ongoing response. The government have committed to developing “stronger and more effective licensing rules, storage requirements and penalties for not complying with gun regulations.”

On March 15, a 28-year-old Australian gunman allegedly carried out two coordinated shootings at Riccarton’s Masjid Al Noor Mosque and Linwood’s Masjid Mosque claiming the lives of 50 people. It was the country’s worst peacetime mass killing. In the aftermath Arden vowed to announce new gun control laws within 10 days.