New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to strengthen gun control laws following yesterday’s terror attack.
On March 15 a gunman opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people and seriously injuring dozens more.
At a press conference early on Saturday (March 16), Ardern revealed the alleged gunman had obtained five guns legally under a ‘category A’ licence.
As reported by CNN, she told reporters:
There were five guns used by the primary perpetrator. 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.
New Zealand currently allows the ownership of semi-automatic guns, which are banned in other countries including the UK and Australia.
If you are over the age of 16 and have an entry-level licence, you can buy the weapons online.
Answering questions from reporters during the press conference, Ardern vowed to toughen gun control laws following the attack.
Stating ‘now is the time for change’, Ardern said:
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.
Attempts to change the laws have previously been made in 2005, 2013 and after an inquiry in 2017.
What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
Ardern also added how the devastating act of violence can only be described as a terrorist incident, emphasising ‘there is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence’.
Wanting to send a message to those affected, Ardern continued:
We New Zealanders were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone this racism, or because we are an enclave of extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things.
We represent diversity and compassion, a home for those who share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and can not be shaken by this attack. We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities and 160 languages.
This is not who we are. This act was not a reflection of who we are as a nation. It will take time to heal and tonight our thoughts and our prayers need to be with those affected.
The attack is the deadliest in the country’s history. Our thoughts are with all those affected.
If you’re concerned and need to contact a friend or relative please visit the International Committee of the Red Cross, who have set up a website by which you can restore links and register your own safety.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.