New Zealand thinkers with gun law after ‘bizarre attacks’

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has said she will announce detailed gun law reforms within days, after an attack on two mosques left 50 people dead.

Ms Ardern said her cabinet had backed gun law changes “in principle”.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a self-described white supremacist, has been charged with murder.

Police say the killer used military-style assault weapons modified to make them more deadly for the attack – all of which is legal under current laws.

No specific details were given by the prime minister at her press conference on Monday, but she said they would made clear soon.

“This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer,” she said.

Ms Ardern was appearing alongside her coalition partner and Deputy PM Winston Peters, who has previously opposed changes.

He said he fully supported the prime minister on the issue, adding: “The reality is that after one pm on Friday, our world changed forever and so will our laws.”

Ms Ardern said: “We have made a decision as a cabinet, we are unified.”

She also announced that an inquiry would look into the lead-up to the attacks, and what might have been done differently.

At the weekend, Ms Ardern said the suspect had a gun licence, obtained in November 2017, and owned five guns.

Earlier on Monday, gun retailer Gun City said it had sold four weapons to the alleged gunman online, but it did not sell him the high-powered weapon used in the mosque shootings.

CEO David Tipple told a news conference in Christchurch it had only sold him A-category weapons.

Under the country’s gun laws, A-category weapons can be semi-automatic but limited to seven shots. Video footage of the attacks appeared to show the gunman with a larger magazine round, which is also available legally.

There are an estimated 1.5 million privately owned firearms in the country.

Since the attack there have been calls for semi-automatic weapons to be banned.

Previous attempts to tighten gun laws have failed due to a strong gun lobby and a culture of hunting.

New Zealand’s gun laws

  • The minimum legal age to own a gun in New Zealand is 16, or 18 for military-style semi-automatic weapons. Anyone over those ages who is considered by police to be “fit and proper” can possess a firearm
  • All gun-owners must have a licence, but most individual weapons do not have to be registered. New Zealand is one of the few countries where this is the case
  • Applicants for a firearms licence must pass a background check of criminal and medical records
  • Once a licence has been issued, gun owners can buy as many weapons as they want


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