News & Views

New Zealand to crack down on firearms ownership this week

New Zealand will crack down on firearms ownership this week after the Christchurch mosques massacre.

In stark contrast to the United States, where even the most minor curbs on gun ownership meet ferocious opposition led by the National Rifle Association, New Zealand gun owners agree action is needed.

The March 15 rampage by a white supremacist gunman has been a shock to the collective system.

“We want to support our government in any changes to prevent a terrorist attack from happening in New Zealand again,” Nicole McKee, secretary of the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern´s government announced an immediate ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs) after the shooting and will put laws to parliament formalising its action on Tuesday.

Finalising such legislation can often take months but Ardern says the matter is so urgent it will be done by April 11.

Further curbs potentially including a gun register, tighter vetting and stricter gun storage rules are set to be passed by the end of the year.

In a move that would be unthinkable in the United States, one of New Zealand´s largest gun retailers, Hunting & Fishing, voluntarily stopped selling MSSAs and halted online firearms sales.

“Such weapons of war have no place in our business — or our country,” chief executive Darren Jacobs said.

New Zealand has its own National Rifle Association, but since the shooting, it has been at pains to point out it is a small sporting organisation, not a wealthy political lobby group like its American counterpart.

“Our members shoot with single-shot bolt action rifles at paper targets,” president Malcolm Dodson said.

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