It took New Zealand lawmakers less than a week to move forward with a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, including assault rifles. The ban comes after an attacker left fifty people dead at two mosques in Christchurch. The gunman had used an AR-15 style weapon.
Citizens will be able to sell their weapons back to the government through a buyback program. Those who fail to surrender their arms will be subject to fines of up to $2,700 and possibly even imprisonment. The government plans to increase penalties once the ban is in place.
The ban on military-style weapons was supported across the political spectrum. The center-right National Party came out in support of the bill, arguing that the safety of New Zealanders was their top priority.
The perpetrator of the mosque attacks, who will not be named in this article, was a 28-year-old man from Australia. His manifesto released online suggests that he wanted to sow discord. The man also expressed deeply anti-immigrant views.
Extremist right-wing terrorism has been on the rise over the past few years in the United States, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. European intelligence agencies likewise have warned that far-right terrorism is a major threat.
Still, New Zealand and Australia rarely suffer mass shootings. Gun ownership in both countries is relatively common, although not nearly as common as it is in the United States. New Zealand has a long history of hunting and sports shooting.
According to Gallup, 61 percent of Americans would support increased gun control. The same poll indicated 40 percent want to ban assault rifles with 92 percent supporting increased background checks.