New gun laws expected to pass by end of next week - minister

8:36 pm on 1 April 2019

The government expects to pass legislation banning most semi-automatic rifles by the end of next week, exactly four weeks after the terrorist attack that prompted it.

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Police Minister Stuart Nash Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Police Minister Stuart Nash today introduced the proposed changes to Parliament where they will tomorrow receive their first reading and pass to select committee.

"Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack will be banned," Mr Nash said.

The changes will ban semi-automatic rifles and military style semi-automatics with the exception of firearms such as 22 calibre rifles and shotguns with magazines that cannot hold more than five rounds of ammunition.

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill will:

  • Ban semi-automatic weapons and military style semi-automatics (MSSAs)
  • Ban parts, magazines and ammunition which can be used to assemble a prohibited firearm or convert a lower-powered firearm into a semi-automatic
  • Ban pump action shotguns with more than a five shot capacity
  • Ban semi-automatic shotguns with a capacity to hold a detachable magazine, or with an internal magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges
  • Exempt some semi-automatic firearms, such as .22 calibres and shotguns, which have limited ammunition capacity
  • Create tougher penalties and introduce new offences
  • Create new definitions of prohibited firearms, prohibited magazines, prohibited parts and prohibited ammunition
  • Establish an amnesty for firearms owners who take steps to hand over unlawful weapons, parts, magazines and ammunition to Police by 30 September 2019

The legislation will also set up a buy-back scheme allowing gun owners to hand over weapons and parts that have been made unlawful by the law change.

It is estimated it will cost between $100 million and $200 million.

Mr Nash has rejected suggestions the government is moving too fast with the law change.

"Everyone I have spoken to, be they hunters, farmers et cetera has said you do not need a military-style semi-automatic or an assault weapon to go hunting or do farm business.

"These are guns that are designed to kill people. The gun the terrorist used, the AR15, is the civilian equivalent of the M16 which was used by ground troops in Vietnam."

Police say 211 firearms have been surrendered since the afternoon of the Christchurch terror attacks.

Some people handed in their guns straight away, before the government announced the suite of changes to firearm laws.

There have been almost 1500 calls to the police 0800 information line about the changes, and about 900 online web forms have been filled in.

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