New Zealand to reform gun laws in 10 days

People gather to mourn for the victims of the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 17, 2019.
(Xinhua/Guo Lei)

Wellington (IANS): New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday said the country’s existing gun laws will be reformed within the next 10 days, adding that her Cabinet has “completely unified” in the decision that comes in the wake of the March 15 shootings that were carried out by a “lone gunman” at two mosques in Christchurch.

The Cabinet met earlier on Monday and made the “in principle” decision about changes to the gun laws in the aftermath of New Zealand’s worst ever terrorist attack that killed 50 people and injured over 45 others, The New Zealand Herald reported.

“As a Cabinet we were absolutely clear, the terror attack on Friday (March 15) was the worst act of terrorism on our shores,” she said.

She has also called on gun owners to surrender their weapons to the police.

“You can surrender your gun to the police at any time,” Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference.

“I’ve seen reports that people are in fact already doing this. I applaud that effort and if you’re thinking about surrendering your weapon, I would encourage you to do so.”

Ardern also confirmed that there would be a review of the security agencies’ actions following the shootings at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Masjid.

The review will look at what the agencies knew, or should have known, and whether there were any blocks to information-sharing. It will also probe the accused gunman, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant’s travel and use of social media.

Hours before Ardern’s appearance, the country’s biggest online auction site, TradeMe, banned semi-automatics and “associated” accessories, saying “it is clear public sentiment has changed”, reports the Guardian.

Another arms site, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, also confirmed that it was pulling all “military-style” semi-automatic guns from sales nationwide.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Police on Monday confirmed that the shootings at both the mosques were carried out by a single gunman.

“We believe that there was only one attacker responsible for this horrendous event,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the media here.

Bush added that police have not ruled out the possibility that others could have helped prepare the lone attacker ahead of the shootings.

Tarrant has been arrested and charged with one count of murder, with further counts expected to be laid.

He is expected to appear again in front of the Christchurch district court where he will defend himself as he did not want any legal representation.

Also on Monday, an 18-year-old teenager was charged with distributing a livestream of the mass shooting and was denied bail.