Legislation aimed at tightening New Zealand’s gun laws in response to the deadly mass shootings at two mosques last month passed its first reading in parliament Tuesday.
The bill, which passed 119-1, bans military-style semi-automatic rifles and automatic assault rifles like the weapons used in the March 15 attack on the al-Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch that left 50 worshippers dead. Police Minister Stuart Nash said the massacre revealed that far too many New Zealanders have access to dangerous guns.
“We don’t ever want to see an attack like this in our country again,” Nash told lawmakers. “We are compelled to act.”
But conservative lawmaker David Seymour criticized the speed at which lawmakers were moving forward with the legislation in casting the lone dissenting vote. But Seymour missed a chance to stall the legislation when he showed up too late to a cast a procedural vote because he spent too much time talking to reporters about his opposition.
The bill also bans high-capacity magazines, which can hold multiple rounds of ammunition, and accessories that can convert ordinary rifles into fast-acting assault rifles.
It will face two more parliamentary votes before it becomes law.
Authorities have charged 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harris Tarrant with murder in connection with the attacks. The self-proclaimed white nationalist, who did not enter a plea in his initial court appearance the day after the attack, will make his next court appearance on Friday.