Illustrative picture of guns.
Illustrative picture of guns. Reuters

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced a ban on Thursday of all military-style semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and any parts that could be converted into semi-automatic guns. The ban was announced in the wake of last week's deadly Christchurch mosque shootings which killed 50 people.

"On March 15 our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place," Ardern announced at a press conference at Parliament in the capital city of Wellington.

“What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” Arden said. “Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned."

"The guns used in these terrorist attacks had important distinguishing features,” she said. “First, big capacity, and also their delivery. They had the power to shoot continuously, but they also had large capacity magazines.”

There are currently 1.2-1.5 million guns in New Zealand with a population of 5 million people. Ardern will be implementing a buyback of banned weapons which will cost from $100 million to $200 million.

New Zealand is following in the footsteps of its closet neighbor Australia which was once plagued by gun massacres. In April 1996, a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist area at Port Arthur, Tasmania with a military-style semiautomatic rifle in the worst mass shooting in Australia's history.

Twelve days later, Prime Minister John Howard announced sweeping national reform on gun laws throughout the country. Automatic weapons were banned, gun licensing was restricted, federal gun buybacks were implemented and imports of new automatic weapons were prohibited. Today, mass shootings in Australia are unheard of.

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