Military-style assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles were banned in New Zealand after Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, announced radical and immediate changes to arms laws after the Christchurch mosque shootings.
"I am absolutely convinced that there will be a common vision among New Zealanders, those who use guns for legitimate purposes and those who have never touched one, that the time for the mass and the easy availability of these weapons must end. And today they will, "said Ardern.
The parts used to convert guns into semi-automatic military-type (MSSA) have also been banned, along with chargers and high-capacity parts that cause the production of semi-automatic, automatic or close-up firearms.
"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in Friday's terrorist attack will be banned in this country," said Ardern.
The ban on arms sales came into effect at 3:00 pm Thursday – the time of the press conference announcing the ban – with the prime minister warning that "all sales should cease" of weapons.
Ardern has also directed officials to develop an arms repurchase plan for those who already own such weapons. He said "fair and reasonable compensation" would be paid.
The repurchase plan is estimated to cost between $ 100 million and $ 200 million. Ardern said the government is still working on how to finance it.
New Zealand, a country with less than 5 million people, has estimated 1.2-1.5 million firearms. The number of MSSA weapons is not known, but there are 13,500 firearms that require the owner to have an E-Cat license, which the government is using to estimate the number of MSSAs.
Stuart Nash, the police minister, said he "had no idea" of how many assault rifles are in circulation.
"It's part of the problem," Nash said. "The prime minister has given a figure for the repurchase [cost], the reason why c & # 39 is such a big gap is that we have no idea. We have an indicative series of numbers around the MSSAs. "
"To the owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions announced today are not due to you, and are not directed at you," the prime minister said. "Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are aimed at making sure that this never happens again".
The measures were internationally praised, with Rebecca Peters, who helped lead the successful campaign to reform Australian arms laws in the 90s, stating: "It was the quickest response of a government after a tragedy".
US Senator Bernie Sanders said: "This is what the real action to stop armed violence looks like" and called on the United States to follow New Zealand's command.
Dana Loesch, spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded to Sanders on Twitter by saying: "The United States is not New Zealand. While they do not have an inalienable right to carry arms and self-defense, we do so."
The announcement was greeted by the leader of the opposition Simon Bridges, who claimed that his national party "would work constructively with the government" on the issue.
"We are in agreement that the public does not need access to military-style semi-automatic weapons. National claims that they are banned along with assault rifles," he said.
The Green Party co-leader and the police association also welcomed the changes.
"These are weapons that were used to massacre innocent children, women and men while they were most vulnerable – to prayer. It is a move that we, as a community, can be proud of," said Chris Cahill, president of the Association of police.
New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush urged people to hand over all the weapons that have been reclassified as illegal to the police.
The police ask people to contact them online to register the firearms they need to surrender. Those who prefer not to do so online can call 0800 311 311. Bush urged New Zealanders not to enter a police station carrying the weapon without calling the police first.
"The first step is to encourage people to do it voluntarily," Bush said. "I'm sure most people will. So we will work with people to see if they have not respected and once that time of grace or amnesty goes, these people can, and in all probability will be prosecuted."
One of the challenges facing New Zealand in trying to fill the gaps in its weapons laws and recover the now-banned weapons is that it does not have a centralized register of which guns are in circulation.
A second round of reforms will be presented to the government on Monday, including issues such as licensing, registration and archiving.
Ardern said that the immediate changes are intended to eliminate the guns that are "the most critical to be addressed urgently".
"There are a number of other amendments that we believe must be made and that will constitute the second tranche of reforms, which are yet to come".
Given the urgency of the legislation, Ardern stated that there will be a restricted select committee procedure for legislation and that he expects the changes to the arms law to be approved on Monday at the next session of parliament.