Tuesday 17 September 2019
News ID: 70387
Publish Date: 13 September 2019 - 22:04
WELLINGTON, New Zealand
(AP) —Six months after a gunman
killed 51 people at two Christchurch
mosques, New Zealand’s government
is planning further restrictions to gun
ownership.
A bill introduced to Parliament on
Friday would create a register to track
all the guns in the country and require
gun owners to renew their gun licenses
every five years instead of every 10. It
would also place new responsibilities on
doctors to notify police if they believe
a gun owner shouldn’t have a license
due to concerns over the owner’s mental
health.
The government hopes lawmakers will
approve the legislation by the end of the
year.
The proposed measures come after
New Zealand in April rushed through
legislation to ban assault weapons such
as AR-15 style rifles.
The government has launched a buyback scheme to compensate gun owners
for the outlawed semi-automatics, and
has so far collected about 19,000 weapons and 70,000 parts. The gun buyback
and a parallel gun amnesty run until December.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told
reporters in Christchurch the focus remained on preventing another attack
like the one on March 15. She said the
attack exposed weaknesses in gun laws,
which the government was fixing.
"We absolutely recognize there is a
legitimate need in our communities to
be able to access guns, particularly our
rural community,” Ardern said. "But
what these changes do is recognize that
actually there’s a real responsibility that
comes with gun ownership.”
Ardern has previously made the point
that New Zealand has a different view
on guns than the U.S., where gun ownership is seen as a constitutional right and
is interpreted by many to be a defense
against potential government overreach.
"Owning a firearm is a privilege not a
right,” Ardern said on Friday.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, has pleaded
not guilty to terrorism, murder and attempted murder charges following the
March attacks. He remains in jail ahead
of his trial.
The judge in the case this week agreed
to a request by prosecutors to delay the
start of the trial by a month until next
June to avoid a clash with the Islamic
holy month of Ramadan.
Judge Cameron Mander noted that
many of the witnesses are Muslim and
that defense lawyers hadn’t raised any
objections to the delay.


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