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New Zealand Moves to Create Gun Registry in Response to Mosque Shootings

Armed police walk following a shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. (Martin Hunter/SNPA/REUTERS)

Lawmakers in New Zealand are seeking to further restrict gun ownership in response to a shooting spree at two Christchurch mosques that claimed 51 lives earlier this year.

Legislation introduced in New Zealand’s parliament on Friday would create national gun registry to track all of the country’s guns and their owners and would also require that gun owners obtain licenses that must be renewed every five years, according to the Associated Press.

The bill would also require that doctors inform the authorities if they believe a patient is mentally unfit to possess a gun.

“We absolutely recognize there is a legitimate need in our communities to be able to access guns, particularly our rural community,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday. “But what these changes do is recognize that actually there’s a real responsibility that comes with gun ownership.”

Drawing a distinction between her own country and the U.S., Ardern added, “owning a firearm is a privilege not a right.”

In the days following the March 15 mosque shooting, the New Zealand parliament rushed to ban assault weapons like the one that was used in the attack. The government has since collected roughly 19,000 semi-automatic rifles and 70,000 parts. The so-called buy-back program will run until December, at which point New Zealanders who remain in possession of the banned weapons will be criminally liable.

Brendon Tarrant, a 28-year-old white supremacist, has pleaded not guilty to murder and terrorism charges and he remains in jail ahead of his trial, which is scheduled to begin in June of 2020.

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