New Zealand will urgently ban military-style semi-automatic rifles, with the government announcing a buyback just days after a shooting at two mosques killed 50 people.

The country will also ban assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and certain modification parts, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” she said.

“We are confident as a government that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change.”

An amnesty would be put in place for the weapons to be handed in, with a buyback scheme to be announced soon, at an estimated cost of $NZ100 million to $NZ200 million.

The government has also immediately implemented a stop-over measure that will keep the weapons from being sold and stockpiled until the new laws can be implemented, Ardern said.


New Zealand’s government will next week also consider tightening licensing rules and ammo restrictions. A gun register is also being mulled.

Concerns have been raised about the availability of military-style semi-automatic rifles after the man charged over last week’s attack, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, used two of the weapons, legally bought with a licence, in the attack.

There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand – roughly one for every three citizens and more than double the rate in Australia.

Under the old law pest control was legally considered a reason to own a military-style semi-automatic weapon and there were no restrictions on the number of guns or ammunition a person could own.

New Zealand’s leader of the opposition, Simon Bridges, is expected to address media soon but this week has said he remained open to changing gun laws.

A petition signed by 65,000 people calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons was delivered to New Zealand’s parliament earlier in the day.