Wellington: More than 11,000 people have signed a petition against proposed tougher gun laws in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch mosque massacres, criticising the changes as "unjust to law-abiding New Zealand citizens".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines only days after the mass shootings at two mosques that claimed 50 lives, CNN reported on Friday.
New legislation will be introduced in Parliament next week, and Ardern has said that it will be passed as a matter of urgency, skipping the normal public consultation process.
But the petition, which was launched on Monday and has gained over 11,100 signatures at the time of writing, criticises the proposal and calls for an in-depth consultation period.
"We believe that recent changes to New Zealand firearms regulation is ill-advised, partly due to the speed at which they have been implemented and also due to (understandable) emotionally driven public pressure," the petition states.
Users do not have to verify their New Zealand citizenship or identity to sign the petition.
Gun City, which describes itself as the nation's largest firearms dealer, is promoting the petition on its website and demanding that firearms license holders are treated fairly and reasonably.
An estimated 1.2 million guns are in circulation in the country around one for every four people. Many are used by farmers or recreational hunters.
Blair Jones, based in the New Zealand city of Nelson, told CNN on Friday that he enjoyed harvesting organic and free range meat, but the ability to do that was being taken away.
"We are law-abiding citizens who have jumped through all their hurdles and abide by all their laws, but we are being labelled as untrustworthy criminals," he said. "None of us pulled the trigger, but we are the ones being punished."
Although Ardern's proposed gun reforms have drawn support across the political spectrum, right-wing New Zealand politician David Seymour has raised similar concerns about the pace of the changes.
"By forcing gun laws through it three weeks, the government will ensure there is no real opportunity for New Zealanders to have their voices heard on the proposals," Seymour, the leader of New Zealand's ACT party, said. "The best way to show defiance is to refuse to erode our free society."
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