March 21 (UPI) -- New Zealand banned military-style semi-automatic weapons six days after a gunman killed 50 people at Christchurch mosques with similar firearms.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement Thursday after pledging a day after the Friday attacks that the country's gun laws would change.
In a news conference, Ardern said last week's terrorist attack "demonstrated the weakness of New Zealand's gun laws."
The accused gunman, Australian Brent Tarrant, 28, used two legally purchased assault rifles in the attack on two mosques, Ardern said.
Tarrant was arrested while on the way to a third destination. He has been charged with one count of murder, but more charges are expected to follow.
"I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders -- those who use guns for legitimate purposes and those who have never touched one -- that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end," Ardern said. "And today, they will."
Along with the firearms, high-capacity ammunition magazines, parts that can convert a firearm into a military-style semi-automatic weapon and parts that can cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic gunfire or close to it will be banned.
"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country," she said.
Legislation is being written and Ardern expects the law to be in place by April 11, she said.
To prevent weapon sellers from unloading their items before the law is in place, an order in council took effect, meaning that only individuals with an E-Class license, which must be approved by the police, can purchase these weapons.
"I can assure people there is no point in applying for such a permit," she said.
For those who already own these weapons, there will be tighter regulations.
To incentivize people to give up their now banned weapons, New Zealand will be establishing a "buyback" program, she said.
After a "reasonable period" of time, those who possess these weapons will face fines up to $2,840 and three years in prison, she said, adding that these penalties will be increased.
"This is just the beginning of the work we need to do," she said.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said during a separate news conference that the police will be working closely with the public to ensure those who possess now-banned firearms can hand them over to authorities safely.
He added that police provided advice on the new laws, and they will do "everything we can" to get those weapons off the streets, out of circulation and contained.
Those who do not comply during the amnesty period will be prosecuted, he said.
"So I encourage everyone in that situation so that you don't become subject to prosecution to contact us immediately in or in the next few days at least," he said.
He said there are at least a quarter-million firearms owners in New Zealand.
The country was still on high alert, with police presence high, particularly around mosques, he said.
Meanwhile, Bush announced that all 50 bodies have been identified and all next of kin have been notified.
Over 120 police, forensic and coroner experts were involved in the identification process, he said.
The first body of one of the victims was released Monday.