New Zealand PM says 'gun laws will change' after mosque shooting

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The Australian government is looking at banning semi-automatic weapons following the killing of 49 worshipers at two Christchurch mosques, the prime minister said. She did not go into details.

The suspected gunman got a “category A” firearms license in 2017, and began stockpiling weapons legally at that point, PM Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Friday. The “mere fact” that this happened means people will want to see a change to gun laws, and she was committed to supporting that, she added.

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All of the suspected shooter’s weapons were legally acquired, according to the PM.

The primary suspect was an Australian citizen who “travelled sporadically to New Zealand and stayed for varied amount of time,” Ardern told reporters. “I would not describe him as a long-term resident.” He was not on a government watch list in either New Zealand or Australia.

The shooter live-streamed the rampage on Facebook, killing 49 people and wounding more than 40 at two mosques before getting arrested by police. Shortly before the attack, he published a 73-page ‘manifesto’ in which he vowed “revenge” against Muslim “invaders” and said he was inspired by Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Currently, New Zealand restricts the purchase of “military-style semi-automatic weapons” to those 18 or older. The minimum legal age to buy a firearm is 16. Anyone the police consider to be “fit and proper” can get a firearms license – provided they pass a background check involving criminal and Medical records. Registration of individual weapons is not required.