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New Zealand opens gun buyback after mosque killings

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New Zealand opened a gun buyback scheme Thursday aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons similar to those used in the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed in the hours after the March 15 killings that New Zealand’s gun laws would be tightened and her government has expedited the change in just three months.

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“The buyback and amnesty has one objective — to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

The Australian man accused of the killings, Brenton Tarrant, is alleged to have used an arsenal of five weapons, including two military style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs), in the attacks on two Christchurch mosques.

Lawmakers voted to outlaw MSSAs, which allow the rapid fire of high-calibre bullets, by a margin of 119-1 in the wake of the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history.

Licensed firearms owners will have six months to surrender weapons that have now been deemed illegal under the scheme, with an amnesty ensuring they will not face prosecution during that period.

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After the amnesty expires, possession of a prohibited firearms is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Compensation will be based on the model and condition of the firearm, with the total cost of the scheme estimated at NZ$218 million ($143 million).

That includes NZ$18 million towards administration costs for what Nash said was “a huge logistical exercise”.

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He said police knew of 14,300 registered MSSA rifles and there were an estimated 1.2 million firearms in the community, with the vast majority still legal under the new rules.

Police said they were organizing “collection events” around the country where firearms owners could submit their weapons.

Tarrant last week pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, as well as 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder.

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He was committed to stand trial in May next year.


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2020 Election

‘I don’t care’: Watch Kamala Harris shut down Chris Hayes for asking a dumb question about Trump

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Sen. Kamala Harris shut down MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes during a post-debate interview on Tuesday evening.

Hayes questioned Harris about her call for Twitter to follow their terms of service and kick President Donald Trump off of the platform.

"Do you think he puts people’s lives in danger when he targets them in tweets?" Hayes asked.

"Absolutely," Harris replied.

"Do you think he knows that?" Hayes asked.

"Does it matter?" Harris replied.

"The fact is he did it. The fact is that he is irresponsible, he is erratic," she explained. "He is like a 2-year-old with a machine gun."

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2020 Election

Democrats blast Trump and demand his impeachment at CNN debate

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Democratic White House hopefuls united in searing condemnation of Donald Trump during their fourth debate Tuesday, saying the president has broken the law, abused his power, and deserves to be impeached.

From the opening moments, most of the dozen candidates on stage launched fierce broadsides against Trump over the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

"The impeachment must go forward," said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden at the head of the 2020 nominations race.

"Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences," she thundered.

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 4 losers from the CNN/NYT Democratic presidential primary debate

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Twelve Democrats took to the stage Tuesday night for yet another debate in the party's 2020 president primary hosted by CNN and the New York Times.

After only ten candidates qualified for the previous debate, an additional two — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and wealthy donor and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer — made it to the stage this round for an even more crowded event.

The candidates discussed a range of important policy issues, but since the format was a debate, and they're all competing for the same nomination, it is ultimately most critical who won and who lost the night. Here are three winners and four losers — necessarily a subjective assessment, of course — from the debate:

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