WELLINGTON: New Zealand responded quickly to the carnage of mosques by banning semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles on Thursday, reviving calls for gun control in the United States.
Fifty devotees were slaughtered nearly a week ago by a white supremacist in two mosques in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, a massacre he filmed and broadcast live on Facebook.
The police announced that all the victims were now identified, helping to alleviate the frustration of the families, while the Muslim custom is to have the dead buried as quickly as possible, usually within 24 hours of death.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised immediately after the killing a hardening of legislation that allowed the killer to legally purchase the arsenal used for the attack.
“All the semi-automatic weapons used in Friday’s terrorist attack will be banned in this country,” the government chief said less than a week later, detailing a range of measures that will deliver on her promise.
Large capacity chargers and other devices that allow faster firing will also be outlawed.
The reform of the legislation will be presented to Parliament in early April, but in the meantime interim measures will prevent any rush on arms, which means that a de facto ban is already in place.
“It’s a good thing, why would we need such weapons in our homes?”, Told AFP Kawthar Abulaban, 54, who survived the attack on al-Nour mosque, the first aim by the 28-year-old Australian extremist.
A buy-back program will be launched for weapons already in circulation, costing between NZ $ 100 million and NZ $ 200 million (up to € 120 million). According to the low estimates, 1.5 million weapons are in circulation in New Zealand, three per 10 inhabitants, less than in the United States (more than one per capita).
The attack provoked numerous debates, both in New Zealand and abroad, on access to weapons and the use of social networks by extremists.
“That’s what real action to stop gun violence looks like,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential candidate for the United States. “We have to follow the example of New Zealand, confront the NRA (National Rifle Association) and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.”
Elected Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounced her country’s inability to implement modest measures after successive Masscres such as Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, which left 26 dead, 20 of them dead. children. “Sandy Hook happened six years ago and we can not even get the Senate to vote on a universal background check.”
NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said “the United States is not New Zealand and they do not have an inalienable right to arms and self-defense unlike us”.
In Christchurch, for the second day in a row, hundreds of people gathered under a gray sky to bid farewell to the killer’s victims, including a woman converted to Islam and a dead man bowing to the man who was going to kill him.
Students cried accompanying the coffins of Sayyad Milne, 14, and Tariq Omar, 24.