New Zealand's new gun laws get final assent to take effect

A woman pushes a stroller past flowers and tributes displayed in memory of the mosque massacre victims outside the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch New Zealand

New Zealand's new gun laws were officially signed into effect Thursday, formally banning military-style semi-automatic weapons less than a month after a white supremacist gunman killed 50 worshippers inside two Christchurch mosques.

"I struggle to recall any single gunshot wounds", Ms Ardern said.

"I like to think the vast majority of Kiwis are good law-abiding citizens and both the prime minister and myself have made this very clear that we're not penalising these gun owners, but we have changed the law and as a outcome of that they are now holding something which is illegal".

The new curbs bar the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a certain capacity, and some shotguns.

Flowers at a memorial near the Masjid Al Noor mosque for victims in the Christchurch terror attack. It must now receive royal assent from the governor general to become law.

Anyone who retains such a weapon now faces a penalty of up to five years in prison.

There are some narrow exemptions including for pest control, collectors, heirlooms and mementos.

More than 300 weapons had already been handed in.

The law includes a buy-back scheme under which owners of outlawed weapons can surrender them to police in return for compensation based on the weapon's age and condition.

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While about 1.5 million guns are thought to be in the country, a lack of registration means authorities have no idea how many weapons are expected to be handed back during an amnesty and gun buyback - the first details of which were unveiled on Wednesday - or how much the program may cost.

The only dissenting voice was from the libertarian ACT Party's sole MP, David Seymour. "And then he described to me they had been obtained legally", she said.

City Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she was shocked beyond words by the two mosques attacks.

Ardern said that there was some opposition from firearms owners, but that the response to the proposed legislation was overwhelmingly positive.

"We are ultimately here because 50 people died and they do not have a voice", she added. "There have been very few occasions when I have seen Parliament come together in this way and I can not imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now".

"We live not only with ongoing grief but also with very real fear", she said.

"To the families of our missing 50 and those who were injured, I trust you will look at us as an institution and say we delivered here today".

"My question here is simple: you either believe that in New Zealand these weapons have a place or you do not. My view is that an argument about process is an argument to do nothing".

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