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New Zealand Prime Minister Says Semi-Automatic Weapons Will Be Banned After Mass Shooting

((George Frey/Reuters))

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that the country will ban military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines after the shooting massacre that killed 50 last week.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Arden said at a new conference in Wellington, the country’s capital.

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern promised, adding that the legislation will be “drafted and introduced in urgency.”

On Friday, a 28-year-old Australian gunman who identified with white supremacist causes and possessed a firearms license shot up two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 and injuring 50, including small children, the deadliest shooting in the country’s recent history. The shooter was caught and charged with murder and will appear in court next on April 5.

Arden promised citizens a day after the shooting that “our gun laws will change.”

“While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change,” the prime minister said.

The New Zealand Police reports approximately 1.2 million guns in the country, and Arden estimated that buying them back, as the Cabinet has directed, could cost the country as much as $100 million to $200 million.

President Trump said he has offered U.S. aid to New Zealand following the tragedy. However, asked at the White House whether he sees white nationalism as a “rising threat around the world,” the president responded “I don’t, really.” The gunman’s manifesto appeared to make reference to Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

New Zealand’s last mass shooting was three decades ago in 1990, when a disturbed gunman left 13 dead. That shooting precipitated 1992 regulations on military-style semi-automatic firearms.

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