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New Zealand passes gun ban 26 days after Christchurch shooting

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New Zealand’s new ban on many types of firearm is all but certain to become law from Friday, April 12, after its House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a new legisltion.

The House passed the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment bill and its third and final reading 119-1 on Wednesday night after an expedited process, Reuters reported.

It’s not clear who the one member of parliament who voted against the bill is.

The law bans all semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. Its swift passage comes 26 days after a gunman killed 50 people with legally obtained weapons at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian man and suspected white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder.

Read INSIDER’s full coverage of the New Zealand shootings here.

Members of the public following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch on March 15.
REUTERS/SNPA/Martin Hunter

The next step of the legislation process is to receive Royal Assent from New Zealand’s Governor-General. While assent could technically be denied, the process is in practice a formality, and assent has never been withheld before.

The bill is expected to receive assent on Thursday, meaning military-style semi automatic weapons, assault rifles, and its associate parts will be illegal from Friday, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Ardern attends Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch on March 22.
Jorge Silva/Reuters

‘We are here because of them’

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, made a rare appearance at the third reading. She said she was urged to quickly legislate against guns after Police Commissioner Mike Bush told her that the gunman had obtained his weapon legally.

“I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could have been obtained legally in this country,” she told the House on Wednesday. “I could not fathom that.”

“I could not hand-on-heart go down and face not just the media, not just the public, but the victims that had been left behind from this terror attack and tell them hand-on-heart that our system and our laws allow these guns to be available and that was okay. Because it was not.”

Read more: The Christchurch shooting suspect appeared in court via a video link, seeing victims for the first time since the attack. Some were still in wheelchairs and hospital gowns.

People attend prayers outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch on March 22.
REUTERS/Edgar Su

“I made a decision after that briefing that I would go down that day and, without having the chance to question the Parliament, know that Parliament would be with me,” Ardern added. “And they were.”

She also paid tribute to the victims of the massacre, saying: “I struggled to recall any single gunshot wounds. In every case, they spoke of multiple, debilitating injuries … We are here because of them. I believe they are here with us.”

Watch Ardern’s speech here:

Six days after the massacre, Ardern announced her intention to ban the semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, as well as a ban on selling or possessing those weapons as an “interim measure” while legislation is prepared.

The government also plans to introduce a gun buyback scheme, which will offer cash incentives and amnesty to those still in possession of the weapons. The program is estimated to cost between $NZ100 to $NZ200 million ($69 to $138 million).

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