New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday morning that “our gun laws will change” following the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 49 people dead.
“There were five guns used by the primary perpetrator,” she said at a news conference in Wellington. “There were two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns. The offender was in possession of a gun license. I’m advised this was acquired in November of 2017. A lever-action firearm was also found.”
She said the suspect, identified as Brenton Tarrant, obtained a gun license in November 2017 and began purchasing guns legally in December 2017.
“While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.” Ardern said.
Nation’s last mass shooting 3 decades ago
Until Friday, the biggest massacre in the country’s history happened 30 years ago, when a man named David Gray went on a shooting rampage, killing 13 people.
Following that attack, the nation’s gun laws — which were first passed in 1983 — came under scrutiny. The ensuing debate led to a 1992 amendment on the regulation of military-style semi-automatic firearms.
Despite those laws, New Zealand’s weapons legislation is considered more relaxed than most Western countries outside of the USA. Gun owners do need a license but they aren’t required to register their guns — unlike in neighboring Australia.
While authorities do not know exactly how many legally or illegally owned firearms are currently in circulation in New Zealand, estimates put the number at about 1.2 million, according to New Zealand Police. This figure equates to about one gun for every three people — a rate that is considered high when compared with Australia, which has 3.15 million guns, approximately one for every eight people.
The authorities in New Zealand are still investigating the other two people arrested suspects for involvement in the attack.
During the evening , local time, the main suspect was put in trail the court suspected of murder. It is unclear how he stands up to the charges.
The man is detained while waiting for trial.