New Zealand’s Push for Gun Reform, Explained | NowThis World

New Zealand is making some big changes [ARDEN]: Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country

[HOST]: The Prime Minister made the announcement less than a week after a white supremacist allegedly carried out a mass shooting that left 50 worshippers dead in two New Zealand mosques So despite the typical calls to avoid ‘politicizing’ attacks like this we need to get political for a few minutes Because – thanks to a push from New Zealand’s Muslim community, gun policy experts and politician alike are already recognizing that this attack was directly connected to holes in the legal system So what are New Zealand’s current gun laws? And how are they expected to evolve? When we zoom out, New Zealand’s gun laws are less stringent than those in other developed countries like the UK and Australia But when compared to looser gun laws, like those in the U

S, they could seem very strict Gun owners in New Zealand are required to obtain a license to purchase a firearm – and that means passing a background check that looks at your criminal, medical, and mental health history The next steps? Reference checks A home inspection by authorities to approve your firearm storage system

A gun safety training course and written test Once you're given the stamp of approval, provided you’re over the age of 16,or 18, for military-style semi-automatic firearms, you can pretty much buy as many guns as you want In the country of roughly 5 million people, there are an estimated 12- 15 million guns held by civilians

But the number of licensed gun owners in the country is just under a quarter of a million people – so that means gun owners are likely to have more than one firearm And gun owners are not required to register the majority of weapons – only certain restricted ones like military-style semi-automatic weapons So, of those estimated one and a half million guns, only about 4% are actually registered It’s been called a “licensing but no registration” system And that system made it easier for the 28-year-old Australian shooting suspect to enter two mosques in Christchurch with guns, including semi-automatic weapons, and open fire on Muslim worshippers during Friday prayers

[ALI]: You don’t think something like this could happen in New Zealand – Well, in Christchurch of all places We’re such a small community We’re so kind and loving, so I just don’t understand why someone would hurt us like this in such a way [HOST]: According to authorities, the alleged gunman legally purchased all 5 firearms used in the shootings – something he wouldn’t have been able to legally do in Australia- and wasn’t on any watchlists The country reacted quickly

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered this message a few days after the shooting: [ARDEN]: What I can assure you is, our gun laws will change [HOST]: And indeed, less than a week after the shooting, she laid out specific legislative plans: A ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as accessories that can modify guns into military-style weapons This doesn’t include smaller semi-automatic guns Parliament has signaled support for the ban, which is expected to pass easily Even the leader of the main opposition party threw his support behind it

Once the ban becomes law, the punishment for owning one of the banned weapons could reportedly amount to a fine of about 2,700 US dollars or up to three years in prison If these changes seem to be happening exceptionally fast… it’s because they are That’s thanks in large part to the country’s unicameral parliament, which lends itself to this type of legislating

For a bill to pass, only a simple majority is needed Prime Minister Ardern also announced a buyback program for the soon-to-be-banned weapons currently in circulation And while some gun owners pushed back against the government’s push for legislative change, others got ahead of it [HART]: I've been a firearms owner for about 20 years, and for at least 10 of those, I've owned a semi-automatic rifle For me the utility or convenience of a semi-automatic rifle weighed up against the possibility of another tragedy like we've witnessed in New Zealand – Is really not a difficult comparison at all

It's really not worth the risk to my mind [HOST]: According to police, a few dozen people like Hart have voluntarily surrendered their guns, even before the buyback program has started It’s important to consider the context in which this is happening While New Zealand’s gun culture doesn’t quite rival the US

’s, (firearm ownership is considered a privilege, not a right) it's a big part of many people’s lives That’s especially true in rural and farming communities, where hunters rely on firearms to eradicate pests like possums But some of these farmers, including the country’s main farming lobby, are supportive of at least some type of gun reform [SALVESEN]: Been a few things said these last few days, that guns themselves aren't necessarily dangerous, it's the people that use them, so more careful vetting might be a good idea, too [HOST]: New Zealand has an influential gun lobby that has actively pushed back against legislation aiming to tighten gun restrictions

Which is largely why the country’s gun laws haven’t been substantially revised in decades In fact, the last time there was real reform was in 1992, when the country found itself in a very similar situation to today Two years earlier, a mass shooting in the township of Aramoana left 13 people dead Subsequent reforms included requiring firearms licenses to be renewed every ten years and tightening up restrictions on mail order guns [ARDEN]: And still none of the changes that have been made in the past dealt with one of the most glaring issues we have that sets New Zealand apart from many other nations

The availability of military style semi-automatic weapons [HOST]: Christchurch was the country's deadliest mass shooting since Aramoana, and the first one in more than 20 years In fact, since 2007, annual gun homicides in the country have almost always remained in the single digits For a country with such little gun violence, the Christchurch terror attack changed everything But it remains to be seen just how far those changes will go

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