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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Some rushed to their trusted online dealers and stores to stock up on semiautomatic assault rifles. Others unlocked their secure cabinets, picked up their firearms and turned them into police stations, no questions asked.
The estimated quarter of a million gun owners across this largely quiet, peaceful South Pacific country, many of them dedicated hunters, are bracing for what are likely to be significant reforms to New Zealand’s firearm laws. Leaders have hinted the changes will impact the proliferation and availability of semiautomatic weapons in particular.
The changes, agreed to in principle by the country’s coalition government Monday – just 72 hours after the deadliest act of gun violence in New Zealand history – put the country in line with others that have taken swift action following tragedy within their borders. Details of the changes will be announced within the week, and must be passed by parliament.