NZ PM Ardern confirms gun law reform following Christchurch shooting

Wellington: In the wake of the Christchurch shooting, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that the government has agreed to reform the country’s gun laws.

Terming the incident as the “worst act of terrorism on our shores”, Ardern said that massacre at two mosques that claimed 50 lives exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws, reported CNN.

Speaking to reporters following her weekly Cabinet meeting on Monday evening (local time), Ardern said that ministers had agreed “in principle” to reform gun laws.

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Ardern said, “Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.”

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur,” she asserted. She also acknowledged that “for a short period” planned reforms might create uncertainty for some gun owners.

On Monday, the New Zealand Prime Minister also announced a probe into the specific circumstances leading up to the ghastly attack.

Ardern highlighted that the inquiry will look into what agencies knew, or should have known about the terrorist’s access to weapons or any impediments into the sharing of information.

It will also look into the terrorist’s travel movements, activities in the country, use of social media and contact with others.

New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau, Police, Customs and Immigration are the agencies that will investigate the matter, she said.

Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian-born suspect accused of gunning down 50 people during Friday’s terror attacks here dismissed his lawyer and is planning to represent himself in future court hearings, raising fears that he could attempt to use the trial to express his extremist views.

Richard Peters, the attorney who represented Tarrant in the hearing at the Christchurch District Court on Saturday, confirmed the news and said that the accused “appeared to be lucid” and was not “mentally unstable”, New Zealand Herald reported.

Peters said that the accused was insisting that he wanted to represent himself in the court and his job had come to an end after Saturday’s hearing.

Tarrant, who appeared before the court on murder charges on Saturday, was remanded in custody without plea until
April 5.

Meanwhile, Australian counter-terrorism police on Monday searched two homes in New South Wales state-linked to the terrorist.

Tarrant live-streamed his gruesome act on Facebook for 17 minutes and police believe that the accused had single-handedly carried out the terror attack at both the mosques under a span of 36 minutes during the Friday prayers for which a large number of worshippers had congregated.

Using automatic weapons, the 28-year-old terrorist launched a “well-planned” attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers, following which mosques across the country were advised to shut down.

Condemning the terror strikes, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had described the attack as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said it “appears to have been well planned”. She asserted that the country “will not and cannot be shaken” by the attack.

Ardern underlined that the country’s gun laws will undergo changes and become stricter.


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