Jacinda Ardern Announces Ban On Military Style Semi-Automatic Weapons

New Zealand will urgently ban all military style semi-automatic weapons, less than a week after 50 people were killed in the worst massacre in the country's history.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced the ban on the sale of all military style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high capacity magazines.

"We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semi-automatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semi-automatic weapon. We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic or close to automatic gunfire," she said.

"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country."

"We are confident as a government that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change."

The urgent legislation is currently being drafted, with an expectation the law will be in place by April 11, after the next two-week parliamentary sitting session.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Image: Getty

The government has implemented an interim measure to ensure the weapons cannot be sold until the new laws are implemented.

Ardern said police are in direct contact with dealers advising them of the changes.

An amnesty will be put in place for the weapons to be handed in, with a buyback scheme to be announced soon "to ensure that fair and reasonable compensation is paid".

Ardern said the scheme would cost between an estimated NZ$100 million and $200 million.

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"I'm sure that the officials have had to use some estimates but again we are very much in the dark as to how many of these are in circulation," she said.

The PM was blunt about the fact that the guns will be illegal in three weeks and not to "waste your money".

1996 Gun Buy Back
Image: Getty Images.

Concerns have been raised around the availability of military-style semi-automatic rifles after the man charged over last week's attack, a 28 year old Australian, used two of the weapons, legally bought with a licence, in the attack.

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand -- more than double the rate in Australia.

Under the old law pest control was legally considered a reason to own a military-style semi-automatic weapon and there were no restrictions on the number of guns or ammunition a person could own.

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Ardern revealed New Zealand sought advice from Australia around the buyback scheme.

"Obviously we have incorporated some of the thinking into the way we are arranging some of what we are doing,  keeping in mind a slightly different set of circumstances in the 1990s," she said.

She mentioned the advice of particular interest is "around when you have a buyback running alongside an amnesty how you give clear direction around the country over what is in and what is out".

Proposals for further amendments to the country's gun laws are expected to be considered by the Cabinet on Monday.

"Be assured, this is just the beginning of the work we need to do," Ardern said.

Flowers and messages are places on the steps of the Kilbirnie Mosque. Image: Getty

"It is in the national interest and it is about safety. I will work hard to retain that support as we work on the remaining tranches of reform that we must make to prevent an act of terror happening in our country ever again."

Opposition leader Simon Bridges said his party would be supporting the changes and would work with the government.

"The terrorist attack in Christchurch last week has changed us as a nation," he said in a statement.

"We agree that the public doesn't need access to military-style semi-automatic weapons."

With AAP. 

Featured image: Getty