By Robert A. Vella

Islamophobic white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant has been named as the shooter in the deadly domestic terrorist attack that killed at least 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday.  He was armed with five guns including two semi-automatic weapons which he had purchased legally.  Compared to neighboring Australia, New Zealand’s gun laws are less restrictive and closer to those in the U.S. which is suffering from the worst gun violence endemic among the world’s developed nations.

The analogy to the U.S. is especially concerning since Tarrant had praised President Trump on social media as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,”  and that both men have used similar language in labeling their respective targets as “invaders.”  Trump, of course, was referring to immigrants and asylum seekers from Central America which he wants to stop with a continuous wall across the border with Mexico.

Although Trump, in his post-attack comments, refused to admit that the problem of violent white supremacy was serious and getting worse, it is nonetheless a demonstrable fact.  Countries so afflicted, and which have lax gun control laws, are vulnerable to such mass shootings because the weaponry involved directly correlates to the number of potential victims.

From:  New Zealand’s Gun Laws Draw Scrutiny After Mosque Shootings

While New Zealand’s laws governing the purchase of semiautomatic rifles are more restrictive than those in the United States, the country is much freer with firearms than Australia is, allowing most guns to be purchased without requiring them to be tracked.

“New Zealand is almost alone with the United States in not registering 96 percent of its firearms — and those are its most common firearms, the ones most used in crimes,” said Philip Alpers of GunPolicy.org, a clearinghouse for gun law data worldwide. “There are huge gaps in New Zealand law, even if some of its laws are strong.”


“If he went to New Zealand to commit these crimes,” Mr. Alpers said, “one can assume that the ease of obtaining these firearms may have been a factor in his decision to commit the crime in Christchurch.”

From:  New Zealand prime minister says, ‘Our gun laws will change’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Saturday morning that “our gun laws will change” following the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques that left 49 people dead.

“There were five guns used by the primary perpetrator,” she said at a news conference in Wellington. “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.”

She said the suspect, identified as Brenton Tarrant, obtained a gun license in November 2017 and began purchasing guns legally in December 2017.

“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.” Ardern said.

20 thoughts on “New Zealand’s gun laws come under scrutiny in the wake of a deadly domestic terrorist attack

  1. I notice the PM is a woman and she is definitely advocating a change in their gun laws. Do you think if we were to elect a woman president … and considering the number of women recently elected to Congress … that we MIGHT be able to change some of our gun laws?

    Liked by 2 people

    • The more women in government and politics the better, I say. Women have been under-represented for far too long.

      That said, I don’t believe gender has any relation to morality, ethics, judgement, or anything else needed for good governance. There are plenty of women in politics who oppose gun control particularly Republican women in America.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There have been a number of moves to change gun laws here over the last 15 or more years, but the right balance has not been struck. Bills failed because they were considered to draconian or they were considered too soft.

      Don’t forget that since 2000, we’ve had more years with a woman at the helm than we have had a man in that role, and we’ve only had one year where we’ve had a Prime minister who held any form of religious belief. I believe we are still the only country where all five of the highest roles of government have been held by women simultaneously. Neither gender, nor religion has held back changes in gun law. It’s been a lack of consensus in what changes should be made.

      By the time consultation is completed, legislation drawn up and passed through all stages including select committee to which all members of the public and other interested parties have a right to make submissions, I doubt very much that that we’ll see changes before the end of the year. Through the select committee process, a bill can change quite significantly, so what comes out the other end might be quite different from what was originally drafted. So don’t expect that what the Prime Minister wants is what she’ll get.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, I don’t know, thoughts and prayers seem to be working wonders to clear up the gun problem in the US, don’t ya think? Maybe New Zealand outta adopt THAT great gun control method, eh? Change the laws! HA!!! How silly! Thoughts and prayers, baby, thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Followers of Abrahamic religions make up less than half the population, and most of them offer only token allegiance to their faith, so I doubt that any deity, would take much notice of prayers. In the NZ context, “thoughts and prayers” has little on no relationship to deities. It simply means keeping the situation in our mind and about how is the best way to respond. It’s kind of pointless if we don’t make some sort of response, whether it’s to offer practical aid to the victims or reflect on how our attitudes might contribute to the legitimising of extreme actions in the minds of some people, as just two examples. Even I found myself using the phrase yesterday, and I’m a non-theist.

      I think Aotearoa New Zealand is one of just a handful of countries where most guns, including semiautomatics do not have to be registered. There is a terrible loophole in our law in that semiautomatics don’t have to be registered if the have magazines that can not hold more than 7 rounds, but there is no control on the sale of magazines holding far more rounds. Anyone with a class A gun ownership licence can legally purchase a semiautomatic and a large capacity magazine. While it might be illegal to insert the large magazine into the gun, there’s nothing illegal about having both in your possession.

      As someone on another blog said: cars and dogs require registration, but guns don’t. Kinda illogical don’t you think?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. 24hrs and the law changes. Same thing in Australia after Port Arthur. I was not a fan of John Howard, but I was proud of what he did at that time.

    You’ve probably seen this, but it’s well worth it:

    Liked by 2 people

    • The law hasn’t changed. Change is being talked about, but it’s too early to know what that form takes. Remember our current laws were passed after the Aramoana massacre in 1990. Prior to that guns were registered, owners weren’t. It was thought that licencing gun owners would be more effective than registering guns.

      My biggest concern is that the police will be given that task of gun registration. They simply don’t have the resources to do that. Currently semiautomatics require a permit to transfer ownership, which is supposed to be a way of tracking semiautomatic weapons, but the police haven’t been able to even keep those records accurately. It would be better in my opinion for a separate authority to be set up and funded separately so that police don’t divert funding from gun control to other needs. Just my two cents worth.

      Liked by 2 people

        • He obtained a gun ownership licence in 2017 and started buying guns legally shortly after. Yes, they were bought locally. Importing them requires a special licence. As I have previously mentioned you don’t need anything other than a standard licence to purchase a semiautomatic, so it doesn’t appear that he broke any law in that regard. The sale of gun magazines is uncontrolled, so while it is illegal to sell a semiautomatic with a capacity of more than 7 rounds, there’s nothing preventing you from purchasing multiple high capacity magazines for that gun.

          I doubt that semiautomatics will be banned outright, although I think that is what the prime Minister would like. They are almost a requirement to control the numbers of deer, tahr, goats, possums etc, that were thoughtlessly introduced into the country in the late 19th and early 20th century.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Before the shooting we cheered for the kiwi team when we played against the Aussies, and we cheered for the Aussies when they played against any other nation, unless it was an important sport such as Rugby, cricket, yachting etc, when we cheered for the other team. That hasn’t changed.

          I don’t think a single extremist is likely to make any difference, whereas longstanding agreements regarding free travel and residency rights between our two countries being progressively and unilaterally changed by Australia has, and will continue to sour relationships at both personal and government level.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I heard we were sending Kiwi prisoners home, and that was causing some trouble. For what it’s worth, i’m sorry we exported this dickhead across the Tasman. Sure he’s going to really enjoy being in jail with Maoris.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It’s not sending back Kiwi ex-prisoners that’s the issue. They are deporting anyone who has NZ citizenship who they consider is not of good character. Some of those have lived in Australia all their lives and in some cases didn’t know they had NZ citizenship, just like the Ausie deputy prime minister didn’t realise he had dual Australian and NZ citizenship, making him ineligible to be a member of Parliament. In some cases they’re breaking up families where the deported parent has been living as law abiding citizen for decades.

          Just imagine being dragged out of your place of work and suddenly finding yourself in an offshore detention centre with no access to family or legal representation for no apparent reason only to discover after several months of detention that you are now considered to not be of good character. The reason was because he had associated with a member of a motorcycle gang. The guy had left NZ when he was less than a year old, had never been back, and was an Australian in every respect except citizenship. He had never committed a crime and apparently had been a model citizen apart from the “crime” of forming a friendship with a bikie. He was in detention for more than 6 months during which he was unable to communicate with his family and could only speak to a lawyer on the mainland by telephone. Then he was deported. His case is not unique unfortunately.

          There was a time when residency, health benefits, social welfare free education and employment rights etc available in one country were available to the citizens of both, that now only applies within NZ. I know a lot of fellow kiwis would like our government to respond in kind, but all that would do is harm innocent people whose only “crime” is that they were born Australian. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But it definitely is a sore point at the moment.

          As far as the dickhead is concerned, it appears that he specifically targeted NZ because of its reputation for being a safe place and mostly welcoming to what he considered invaders.

          As to your comment about him being in prison with Maori, I’m not sure what to make of it, so I’ll avoid commenting apart from saying the plural of Maori is Maori.

          Liked by 2 people

        • They’re really going to that extent? I didn’t know, and had no idea Kiwis couldn’t just come over as virtual Australians.

          Sorry if the Maori comment was confusing. I’m just assuming there are Maori in prison (proportionally) who won’t be too fond of a dickhead Australian white nationalist.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Māori are disproportionally represented in prison. It’s not something we can be proud of. Many Māori are concerned about our high rate of immigration (about one in four Kiwis are immigrants. They are concerned that new immigrants and their descendants will see no value in the Treaty of Waitangi, and that Māori will become foreigners in their own land. And I can understand their concern, as even we Pākehā largely ignored it until the 1970s. I’d like to see the provisions of the treaty entrenched in law, but as we don’t have a formal constitution that’s unlikely to happen. So I suspect there’d be a few Māori who might approve of said nationalist dickhead’s actions.

          We can still travel to and live in Australasia at the discretion of the Australian authorities, but a string of laws and regulations passed over recent years, means that many who have lived there for decades, in fact all there lives, are no longer eligible to do so. They also seem to be enforcing a rather arbitary “good character” provision of the law which seems rather draconian.

          Perhaps what makes it seem so bad is the process by which the Australian authorities are deporting people – being whisked of to an island detention centre where visitors are not permitted. They can be held there for a year or more before finally being deported.

          Australia doesn’t need to build a trump style wall as they already have a natural one, but otherwise, the current Australian government immigration policy in not that much different from Trump’s. They’ve even refused an offer by the NZ government to resettle some refugees currently held in a offshore detention camp.

          The detention centres are in offshore micro states for the same reason that suspected terrorists were sent to Guantanamo Bay. To get around human rights issues if they were detained on the mainland.

          I think our own laws could be more compassionate when it comes to deportation, but at least the deportee is free to live in the community right up until the moment of departure, and that could take years if they stretch out the appeals process to its maximum.

          Liked by 2 people

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