New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that the government will ban "military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles," in an attempt to head-off "the kind of horror and attack that we saw on Friday." She said the outlawed weapons will be listed on a website and are the type that were used in the attack on two mosques in Christchurch last week.
Ardern urged all New Zealanders who possess the guns that will be outlawed to begin immediately to fill out forms on the website and make arrangements to hand-in the weapons to police – and even if they are not able to access the online form, not to arrive unannounced at police stations with the guns.
She said the government will create a buy-back program to pay owners "fair and reasonable compensation," which she estimated could cost the country between $100 million and $200 million. She said the guns will eventually be destroyed.
She said no one will be prosecuted over any weapons they turn in. "Amnesty applies," she said. "We just want the guns back."
The prime minister emphasized that firearms play a legitimate role in New Zealand life, especially in rural areas, where she noted they are used for pest control, animal welfare and recreation.
She also said ownership of firearms is a privilege in New Zealand and not a right.
Ardern said further restrictions will be established by law on large magazines and guns that are altered to increase weapons' killing power.
Fifty people died in shooting attacks last Friday at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch. Authorities have have a man custody whom they consider the main suspect.
Ardern said at a news conference that she felt "incredibly confident" that New Zealanders will support the gun restrictions.