Mourners link arms in Hagley Park near the Al Noor mosque, one of the mosque shooting sites in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. (KRISTEN GELINEAU / AP)
WELLINGTON — The Firearms Prohibition Orders came into force on Wednesday to reduce gun crime in New Zealand where a mass shooting killed 51 people in March 2019.
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Firearms Prohibition Orders will improve public safety by stopping people whose behavior and actions represent a high risk of violence from accessing firearms or restricted weapons, said Police Minister Chris Hipkins.
Legislative tool is added to hold offenders to account and keep our communities safe from the harm
The Firearms Prohibition Orders, another measure that will help tackle and reduce gun crime and its impacts on the communities, empower judges to prohibit anyone convicted of firearms-related crimes and other specific crimes, including murder and serious violence offences, from accessing or using guns, he said.
The law targets any violent offenders, including gang members. It gets the balance right between public safety and the right to use and own firearms, by prohibiting people with a history of offending from being near a dangerous weapon, Hipkins said.
The new legislation gives a judge the power to impose an order lasting 10 years and makes it a criminal offence to breach the conditions of the order, he said, adding a breach is an imprisonable offence.
"We have brought in this legislative tool to hold offenders to account and keep our communities safe from the harm which firearms can be caused when in the wrong hands," said the minister.
A gunman killed 51 worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, which was the worst terrorist attack in New Zealand history. The country has tightened its gun laws since then.