New Zealand Government Seeks To Ban Semi-Automatic Weapons

New Zealand Government Seeks To Ban Semi-Automatic Weapons

Image via Getty/Alex Grimm - FIFA

Looks like New Zealand isn’t waiting on “thoughts and prayers” to change things

During a vigil in honor of the 49 victims of the mass shooting in New Zealand, the country’s attorney general made some powerful comments to the crowd in attendance. Just one day after the shooting at two mosques, Attorney General David Parker is calling for stricter gun laws.

Echoing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s remarks that the country’s gun laws would change, Parker says the government could seek to ban semi-automatic weapons. “There is a dimming of enlightenment in many parts of the world,” he said to the crowd. “How can it be right for this atrocity to be filmed by the murderer using a go-pro and live-streamed across the world by social media companies? How can that be right? Who should be held accountable for that?”

A portion of the attack was broadcast live on Facebook after the shooter published a “white supremacist manifesto” online. Ardern called it a terrorist attack and “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.” The slaughter interrupted a day of prayer at the Al Noor Mosque in the center of the city and the Linwood Mosque about three miles east of it.

Currently, one man has been arrested for murder in relation to the shooting and three others are still in custody. In a statement, Ardern said five guns were used by the primary perpetrator, including two semi-automatic weapons, and two shotguns.

“The offender was in possession of a gun license,” Ardern said, meaning the guns were obtained legally. “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.”

People on social media are expressing admiration for New Zealand’s call to action by members of the government.

Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime in the Parkland shooting, applauded the efforts of elected officials in New Zealand.

New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush says the guns used in the killing were able to be purchased legally under a “category-A” license, which is the entry-level gun license in New Zealand. That type of license doesn’t require the license holder to register their weapons. More than 2,000 firearms, including several types of semi-automatic rifle, can be legally purchased under a category-A license.

However, the weapons were not legal as they were found by police after the attack — they appeared to be modified just enough to not require registration. Arden said earlier today that the shooter’s guns did “appear to have been modified” and said that was “a challenge that we will look to address in changing our laws.”

University of Sydney gun control expert Philip Alpers, the founder of global site gunpolicy.org, tells The Guardian that semi-automatic rifles could be modified “very easily” into military-style semi-automatic rifles using a high-capacity magazine, the sale of which is not restricted in New Zealand.

But that looks like it may change in the very near future. “I can’t imagine a country where it is less likely that they will just utter ‘thoughts and prayers’ and let it slide,” Alpers says. “That won’t happen in New Zealand.”