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New Zealand Prime Minister says country's gun laws will change following mosque terror attack

At least 49 people have died.

Image: Sky News

Updated Mar 15th 2019, 9:35 PM

NEW ZEALAND’S PRIME Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her country’s gun laws will change as a result of a massacre of 49 people at two mosque in Christchurch. 

Speaking at a press conference today, Ardern said that one of the attackers who entered the mosques had a gun licence. 

One man was arrested and charged with murder, and two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand.

It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.

She pronounced it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.

The gunman who carried out at least one of the mosque attacks posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media under the name Brenton Tarrant, identifying himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

Jacinda Ardern said the gunman, a 28-year-old Australian, obtained a “Category A” gun licence in November 2017 and began purchasing the five weapons used in the attacks in the southern city of Christchurch the following month.

The firearms included two semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns and a lever-action weapon, she said, speaking to reporters in Wellington, before heading to Christchurch.

“The mere fact… that this individual had acquired a gun licence and acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I’m committing to that,” she said.

“While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change.” 

Ardern noted several earlier attempts to reform the laws in 2005, 2012 and 2017. She said options to consider would include a ban on semi-automatic weapons. 

She also confirmed that the gunman and two suspected associates who were also arrested had not been on the radar of any intelligence agencies, even though he had published a manifesto online indicating plans for attacks on Muslims.

“They were not on any watchlists either here or in Australia,” she said.

“The individual charged with murder had not come to the attention of the intelligence community, nor the police, for extremism,” she added.

“I have asked our agencies this morning to work swiftly on assessing whether there was any activity on social media or otherwise, that should have triggered a response. That work is already underway.

“Given global indicators around far-right extremism, our intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in this area.” 

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