Initiatives 'will make NZ safer'

A government move to ban military-style semi-automatic rifles has been described as "wonderful and reassuring''.

Kevin Clements, foundation director of the University of Otago's National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, said the Government's firearm control moves should be "applauded by all New Zealanders''.

Prof Clements, who has long advocated gun control, said the ban would bring New Zealand into line with Australia, the United Kingdom and to some extent Canada, the latter having a partial ban on such weapons.

The call to ban military-style semi-automatic rifles had been advocated in a report by Judge Thorpe in 1997, but had not been implemented by previous governments.

He was "very pleased" the Government had also initiated a buyback scheme to "take as many of these firearms out of circulation as possible''.

He also hoped people who had such weapons would promptly hand them in as a "contribution to national safety and to honour those who have just lost their lives to such weapons''.

"All of these initiatives will make New Zealand a safer place,'' he added.

Firearms researchers at Otago University's Wellington campus, Dr Marie Russell and Dr Hera Cook, also welcomed the ban as a "major step towards improving New Zealanders' safety''.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president-elect Dr John Bonning, of the Waikato, said that strengthening gun control, registration and licensing "makes people safer''.

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