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New Zealand plans to further tighten gun laws

CHRISTCHURCH (New Zealand): New Zealand’s government is set to further tighten the country’s gun laws in the aftermath of the killings of 51 people in Christchurch’s two mosques.

The government established a firearm register and overhaul licensing systems.

Monday’s new legislation would tighten the rules for gun owners and dealers and require them to renew their licence every five years, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Currently, renewal takes place every 10 years.

“In April we acted to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation by prohibiting assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics,” Ardern said.

She added that now the government was moving to stop other firearms falling into the wrong hands.”

The register will link gun serial numbers with licence holders and give police more powers to intervene in cases where there are suspicions about a gun owner’s behaviour. Visitors to New Zealand would also be prevented from buying a gun.

In the first phase of gun control, New Zealand had banned military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles after Australian-born Brenton Tarrant used semi-automatic weapons to massacre Muslim worshippers in the city on New Zealand’s south island.

He is alleged to have used five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles, in the killings.

He has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, as well as 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder.

A gun buyback scheme, the first of some 250 collections to remove semi-automatic weapons from circulation, began earlier this month.