New Zealand gun laws, What you need to know (details)

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New Zealand gun laws, What you need to know (details).

Politicians have almost unanimously passed a ban on high-power guns in response to the Christchurch mosque attack.

So what will change, what won’t, and how did it happen?

ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY?

Of 120 members parliament, only one opposed the changes: the libertarian Act party’s sole MP, David Seymour. He argued the laws have been rushed through too quickly and without enough consultation.

By legislative standards, the process has moved at lightning speed. Lawmakers often mull bills for at least six months. Friday will mark four weeks since the March 15 terror attack that killed 50 people in Christchurch.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern outlined the planned changes six days after the mosque shootings. A bill was introduced to parliament on April 1. Politicians only had one day to hear from the public in person and officials had to go through about 13,000 written submissions in a few days.

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Replying to calls for delay, Ardern said: “An argument about process is an argument to do nothing.”

Politicians have promised further laws to come.

Public sentiment has overwhelmingly favoured change, including pleas from the Muslim community and doctors.

A small but vocal gun lobby complained about the speed of the process.

Farmers – who initially backed changed and own many of the country’s guns – this week complained about a lack of exemption for pest-control work they carry out on their land.

WHAT’S BANNED AND WHAT ISN’T

The law bans a wide range of semi-automatic weapons along with any parts that can convert a lower-powered gun into a semi-automatic.

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It also creates new firearms offences – some punishable by 10-year maximum jail sentences – but exempts some weapons such as .22 calibre rifles and shotguns that have smaller ammunition capacity.

Certain groups such as pest controllers will also be exempt under strict conditions.

The law does not introduce a firearms register or change gun licence rules.

WHY WERE THE LAWS NEEDED?

The 28-year-old Australian man arrested after the terror attack allegedly used at least two military-style weapons in the shooting. He acquired them legally with a gun licence and later modified them.

New Zealand’s gun laws have not undergone major change since 1992, following a shooting spree that killed 14 in the town of Aramoana in 1990. Several reform attempts in recent years have failed.

WILL THERE BE A GUN BUYBACK?

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Yes. A process is currently being worked out for determining the level of compensation for gun owners who hand over weapons. They’ll also be paid for any high-capacity ammunition magazines and gun parts they turn in.

While some owners have voluntarily handed back their firearms under an amnesty, police have been collecting bank account details.

HOW MANY GUNS WILL BE HANDED OVER?

Authorities don’t really know because there’s no comprehensive register of individual guns in New Zealand. Treasury estimates the buyback could cost up to $200 million, while gun lobbyists say it will be more.

There is an estimated 1.5 million guns in New Zealand in total. That’s about one for every three citizens and more than double the rate of ownership in Australia.

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