World Australia and New Zealand 19 Mar 2019 New Zealand to tight ...

New Zealand to tighten gun laws

Published Mar 19, 2019, 1:02 am IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 1:02 am IST
Cabinet decides to reduce availability of weapons n Shooter to represent himself in court.
School students perform haka, a traditional Maori  ceremonial dance, during a vigil in Christchurch on Monday, three days after the shooting incident. (Photo: AFP)
 School students perform haka, a traditional Maori ceremonial dance, during a vigil in Christchurch on Monday, three days after the shooting incident. (Photo: AFP)

Christchurch (New Zealand): New Zealand will tighten gun laws in the wake of its worst modern-day massacre, the government said on Monday, as it emerged that the white supremacist accused of carrying out the killings at two mosques will represent himself in court.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her coalition was unified on the need to reduce the availability of the kind of weapons used by Brenton Tarrant as he went room to room shooting Muslims gathered for Friday prayers.


“We have made a decision as a cabinet, we are unified,” she said, flanked by her coalition partner and deputy prime minister, Winston Peters.

Peters, whose New Zealand First party has previously opposed changes, said he backed the prime minister fully.

“The reality is that after one pm on Friday our world changed forever, and so will our laws,” he said.

Ardern, the youthful premier who has become the face of the nation's tragedy, said there would be an inquiry into the horrifying attack, as questions swirl over whether intelligence agencies should have spotted warning signs.

The role of social media has also come under the spotlight, after the gunman livestreamed his rampage on Facebook.

A teenager, whose name cannot be published, appeared in court on Monday charged with distributing that footage.

Meanwhile, police launched a probe into a bomb hoax that forced an hours-long closure of the airport in Dunedin on Sunday, where Tarrant lived.

Grief continued to wash across the nation on Monday, with New Zealanders of all stripes gathering to express revulsion over the killings – and a unified front against racial hatred.

Family and friends outside Al Noor mosque – the scene of the largest massacre – held a sunset prayer session, with their mournful cries echoing through a park as locals looked on.

“It just happened to be the time of our evening prayer. Anywhere you are, you can just pray anywhere,” Saiyad Raza, who had travelled from Auckland to bury his cousin who died in the shootings, said.

Earlier, a Maori cleansing ceremony was performed at the mosque, bringing together indigenous Kiwis, Muslim leaders and local officials.

Dozens of students then paid their respects, with many coming together for a haka – a traditional Maori ceremonial dance that has been performed by groups across New Zealand in the wake of killings.

And in Auckland, students at Orewa College gathered to form a heart and the message “Kia Kaha” – “stay strong” in Maori.

The organisers of New Zealand's largest gun show – the Kumeu Militaria Show, near Auckland – announced on Monday they had cancelled the event in the wake of the massacre and because of “elevated security risks”.

Despite having tightened the rules in the 1990s after the last mass shooting, New Zealand has relatively permissive gun laws, with licences granted to nearly every applicant.

David Tipple, the managing director of Gun City, whose online store sold Tarrant four weapons, said he felt no responsibility for the killings.