New Zealand’s prime minister announces ban on assault rifles

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(CNN) – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines will be banned in the country following the mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people.

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern said at a press conference in the New Zealand capital Wellington on Thursday. “This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency.”

Ardern said she hoped the law would be in place by April 11. Gun owners who wish to surrender their weapons were encouraged to start doing so now.

The announcement came after New Zealand’s cabinet said on Monday that it agreed “in principle” to reform gun laws.

Ardern said that the “worst act of terrorism on our shores” had exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws and promised that “within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.”

“An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in, and the cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme,” she said, adding that details on the buyback would be announced “in due course.”

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride,” she said.

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