New Zealand lawmakers pass initial vote for new gun controls

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New legislation to tighten New Zealand gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks drew overwhelming support when it was introduced to parliament on Tuesday.

Lawmakers voted 119-1 in favour of the bill, which bans military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) rifles like those used in the March 15 rampage by a white supremacist which claimed 50 lives.

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Police Minister Stuart Nash said the attack by the gunman showed current firearms restrictions were inadequate.

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“Far too many people in this country have access to these dangerous firearms for no legitimate purpose, but at significant risk to the public,” he said.

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The sole holdout against the legislation was David Seymour, a conservative whose ACT Party has a single seat in parliament.

Seymour criticised the speed with which his colleagues were handling the legislation, fast-tracking a process that usually takes months so that the law will take effect by the end of next week.

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“It is important that we maintain our tradition of sober, robust law-making at all times, but especially now,” he said in a statement.

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“The best way to show defiance in the face of terrorism is to refuse to erode our democratic institutions.”

Seymour had intended to try to stall the legislation in parliament but missed his chance when he arrived in the chamber late after spending too long explaining his plan to media.

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