New Zealand on Thursday moved to ban sales of certain weapons in the wake of deadly attacks on two mosques.
The rule –announced by the prime minister – came within a week of the attacks, which occurred on March 1. Fifty people were killed.
“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
People who possess firearms now considered to be unlawful will be allowed to turn them in during an amnesty period, as the government works out an official buyback program.
The New Zealand officials estimate that the total number of firearms in the country is between 1.2 million and 1.5 million.
The law is expected to be introduced in Parliament at the beginning of next month. The government is seeking to prevent the stockpiling of firearms by making it illegal to possess the banned weapons as of Thursday.
The ban covers firearms considered to be military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles, particularly semi-automatic firearms and shotguns capable of being used with a detachable magazine that hold more than five cartridges.
However, other guns that serve a “legitimate” purpose will be exempt.
Those include .22-caliber rifles that hold no more than 10 rounds and semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine that hold no more than five rounds.
The government noted that these weapons can be used for hunting, pest control, farm use and duck shooting. Police and military members will also have exemptions.
Exemptions for shooting competitions are being worked out as well.