Christchurch shootings: New Zealand cabinet backs tighter gun laws


18th March, 2019 10:34:17 printer

Christchurch shootings: New Zealand cabinet backs tighter gun laws

New Zealand Prime Minister 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 - which is not illegal under current legislation.


What has the cabinet agreed?


The prime minister gave no details at her press conference on Monday but 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 to gun laws.


Mr Peters said he fully supported the prime minister on the issue, adding: "The reality is that after 1pm 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.


What do we know about the guns used?


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 New Zealand'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.