The New Zealand government is looking at banning semi-automatic weapons following the killing of 49 worshipers at two Christchurch mosques, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The suspected attacker had bought five guns legally.
The primary suspect was an Australian citizen who “travelled sporadically to New Zealand and stayed for varied amount of time,” Ardern told reporters. “I would not describe him as a long-term resident.”
He was not on a government watch list in either New Zealand or Australia.
All of the suspected shooter’s five weapons were legally acquired, according to the PM.
Our gun laws will change.
The suspected gunman got a “category A” firearms license in 2017, and began stockpiling weapons legally at that point, Ardern told reporters on Saturday. The “mere fact” that this happened means people will want to see a change to gun laws, and she was committed to supporting that, she added.
The shooting was live-streamed on Facebook, with the suspect killing 49 people and wounding more than 40 at two mosques before getting arrested by police. Shortly before the attack, he published a 73-page ‘manifesto’ in which he vowed “revenge” against Muslim “invaders” and said he was inspired by Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.
Most of the victims were at the Al Noor mosque, as the attacker was reportedly chased out of the Linwood mosque by a “well known Muslim local” who fired two shots in pursuit, according to the New Zealand Herald.
The Herald later quoted one of the witnesses from Lindwood, Syed Mazharuddin, who said that the gunman was confronted by a mosque caretaker, who wrestled one of his guns away but did not shoot because he “couldn’t find the trigger.”
Currently, New Zealand restricts the purchase of “military-style semi-automatic weapons” to those 18 or older. The minimum legal age to buy a firearm is 16. Anyone the police consider to be “fit and proper” can get a firearms license – provided they pass a background check involving criminal and medical records. Registration of individual weapons is not required.