Our Gun Laws Will Change, New Zealand PM Says.
Ardern said at a news conference that she was advised that the gunman had five firearms — two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm — and that he had acquired a gun license in November 2017.
“While work is being done as to the chain of events that led 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.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday said “our gun laws will change” after a mass shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch killed 49 people and wounded dozens more Friday.
She noted that there have been attempts to change the nation’s gun laws in the past, most recently in 2017, but said “now is the time for change.” She suggested she was looking at the issues around ownership of semi-automatic weapons.
One man, an Australian citizen, has been arrested and charged with murder in the attacks that authorities have called an unprecedented act of violence.
He had a gun license that allowed him to legally purchase the guns, Arden said.
“As soon as New Zealanders hear that someone was legally able to acquire, as I’m advised, those weapons and carry out this event, that will raise enormous questions with our gun laws, and that is why we will respond swiftly,” Arden said.
She said a ban on semi-automatic weapons was “certainly one of the issues that I’m looking at with immediate effect.”
“I’ve asked for advice yesterday on all of these questions,” she said.
Two other people were arrested, and “inquiries are ongoing to establish whether the other two who were arrested were directly involved with this incident,” Ardern said.
None of those apprehended had a criminal history in New Zealand or Australia, and they were not on watch lists in either country, she said.
Officers responded to reports of shots fired Friday afternoon. The two mosques are about three miles apart, and the second mosque was attacked about 45 minutes after the first.
He has been described by officials as a “right-wing extremist terrorist,” and appeared to post a lengthy manifesto before the attack detailing his white-supremacist worldview.
A fourth person taken into custody Friday “was a member of the public who was in possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police,” Ardern said. That person has been released
Ardern said the Australian citizen charged with murder had traveled the world and had “sporadically” been in and out of New Zealand. She said agencies would be piecing together his travel and the sequence of events that led to him getting a gun license.
The prime minister said that the man got the license in November 2017 and began purchasing the guns the following month.
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