Christchurch shootings: New Zealand MPs vote to change gun laws

  • Published
Media caption,

New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern: "These weapons were designed to kill"

New Zealand's parliament has voted to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons following the Christchurch attacks.

The gun reform bill passed 119-1 after the final reading in parliament.

It is expected to become law within the next few days after receiving royal assent from the governor general.

PM Jacinda Ardern announced changes to the law after 50 people were killed last month by a suspected lone gunman at two mosques in Christchurch.

Holding back tears, she told parliament on Wednesday that MPs were there "because of the victims and families". She said that when she had visited the injured in hospital none of them had had just one gunshot wound.

"They will carry disabilities for a lifetime and that's before you consider the psychological impact," she said.

"These weapons were designed to kill, and they were designed to maim and that is what they did on the 15th of March."

What will change?

The new rules make changes to 1983 gun laws which have been the subject of several reform attempts.

They prohibit military-style semi-automatic weapons and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited firearms.

The gunman, armed with semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15, is believed to have modified his weapons with high-capacity magazines so they could hold more bullets. The magazine is the part of the gun which stores ammunition.

Those breaking the new laws will face between two and ten years in jail. An amnesty will be in place until the end of September.

Who opposed the bill?

David Seymour, leader of the ACT party, was the only MP to come out against the bill, although he did not oppose the proposed changes to gun laws.

He said the bill was "not an attempt to improve public safety" but "an exercise in political theatre".

He said he believed the rush to put the bill through the house had made the law worse than doing nothing.

Jacinda Ardern said parliament was "almost entirely united". "I cannot imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now," she added.

Victims of the Christchurch shootings