New Zealand outlaws assault rifles

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Wellington (IANS): Military style semi-automatic weapons (MSSA) and assault rifles are to be banned in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday, a week after 50 people were massacred in two mosques by an Australian man.

The New Zealand government has also moved to ban a number of accessories which can take lower capacity semi-automatic firearms to weapons of greater killing might, Xinhua news agency reported

Related parts used to convert those guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines.

Ardern would not rule out a gun register system in the longer-term tranche of changes into gun laws.

The ban began at 3 p.m. local time on Thursday, said Ardern, who is confident that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support the changes.

The opposition National Party has endorsed the ban on MSSAs. Leader Simon Bridges agreed that the public doesn’t need access to military style semi-automatic weapons.

The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to range between 1.2 million and 1.5 million.

It is understood that an amnesty period will apply and a buy-back scheme will be detailed soon.

The announcement follows the terror attack on two mosques in the southern city of Christchurch on March 15 that left at least 50 persons dead and another 50 injured.

The government will also take measures to prevent the spread of hate messages on social media, Efe news reported.

New Zealand Police published on Thursday a list of almost 30 victims of the terror attack perpetrated against the two mosques.

The list, which contains the names of 29 people, follows the first list with the names of five victims, which was published on Wednesday. One victim was identified as Mucaad Ibrahim, who, at the age of 3, is the youngest of all those killed.

The second list includes Sayyad Milne, a 14-year-old New Zealand student who was buried on Thursday in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch as well as Muhammad Haziq Mohd-Tarmizi, a 17-year-old Malaysian whose disappearance had earlier been reported.

A public burial is planned for Haji-Daoud Nabi, a 71-year-old Afghan who migrated to New Zealand in the 1970s and who saved some lives during the armed attack at the Al Noor mosque.

Abdul Azis, who has become a “hero” of the tragedy by throwing a automatic teller machine at the attacker in the Linwood mosque driving him away, received a spontaneous tribute from New Zealanders.

Flowers were placed in front of his store, while the community continues to collect money to help him and his family, according to Radio New Zealand.

Out of a total of 50 people injured, 29 are still hospitalized, of which nine remain in serious condition, including a 4-year-old girl who was transferred to Auckland on the North Island earlier this week.

New Zealand is preparing to pay tribute to the victims on Friday, one week after the attack by Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, while the mosques of Al Noor and Linwood will open their doors for their usual Friday prayers.

Tarrant, the only suspect in the massacre, will appear on April 5 before the New Zealand High Court facing a charge of murder and likely more charges.