Police Minister Stuart Nash has introduced legislation changing firearms laws to improve public safety following the Christchurch terror attacks.
“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack will be banned,” Nash said. “Owning a gun is a privilege not a right. Too many people have legal access to semi-automatic firearms which are capable of causing significant harm.”
“The attack exposed considerable weaknesses in our laws. The firearms, magazines and parts used by the terrorist were purchased lawfully and modified into MSSAs due to legal loopholes. Our priority is to enhance public safety and wellbeing by urgent changes to the law.
“It is important to reiterate the legislation introduced today is not directed at law-abiding firearms owners who have legitimate uses for their guns. Our actions are instead directed at making sure this never happens again,” Nash said.
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 September 30, 2019.
There will be exemptions for specially licensed dealers, bona fide collectors, museum curators and firearms used during dramatic productions, as there are now. Authorised pest control, police and defence personnel also have an exemption. However, there is no exemption for international sporting competitions. Further advice is needed and it may be considered as part of the second Arms Amendment Bill which is likely later this year.