New Zealand cabinet agrees to change gun laws after Christchurch attacks

Kelley Robertson
March 19, 2019

The Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who is accused of carrying out a massacre at two mosques in New Zealand, briefly visited Israel in 2016, Israeli officials said on Monday.

But he added that the support of other people hasn't been ruled out and is "a very, very important part of our investigation".

Facebook has revealed that it removed almost 1.5 million videos of the Christchurch mosque shootings in which 50 people were killed and another 50 people injured, after a gunman opened fire on worshippers on Friday, March 15 at two mosques in New Zealand.

At a news conference, Gun City owner David Tipple said the store sold four guns and ammunition through a "police-verified online mail order process".

New Zealand Police earlier said that the first body belonging to a victim of Friday's massacre had been released to their family.

"I absolutely agree with her and I believe many New Zealanders will be aghast that in our country someone can amass a cache of weapons like that discovered in this Christchurch tragedy".

He said that the firearm was not purchased from Gun City. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.

Ardern also said that an inquiry will look into the Christchurch terror attacks.

Tarrant had posted a muddled, 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto online before the attacks and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to stream live video of the slaughter.

The owner of a New Zealand gun store said on Monday (March 18) that the man arrested in relation to the Christchurch shootings had bought weapons online from the store.

New Zealand's prime minister set a timeline for her government to draft stricter gun laws, but didn't reveal specific details after a meeting with her cabinet following Friday's deadly mosque shootings. The National Party draws support from rural areas, where gun ownership is higher than in urban areas.

"I totally agree there should be a gun debate, but today is not the day", said Tipple.

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

Although details have yet to be hashed out, the speed of New Zealand's move has resonated around the world - particularly in the United States, where reforms have spluttered for decades, and similar debates are re-run after each new mass shooting.

Ardern said that her country had done as much as it could to "remove or seek to have removed some of the footage" circulated in the aftermath of the attack, but that ultimate it has been "up to those platforms".

New Zealand citizens honored the memory of the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings by performing the haka dance this past weekend.

The last time New Zealand carried out serious gun reforms was after a mass shooting at Aramoana near Dunedin in 1990.

Authorities have been racing to identify the 50 people killed, with Islamic tradition calling for a person to be buried as soon as possible after death - ideally within 24 hours.

Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussien Al-Umari died at the Al Noor mosque, said "It's very unsettling not knowing what's going on, if you just let me know - is he still in the mosque?"

Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha said the first body was approved for release on Sunday night, but the family was yet to take the body because another relative was killed and they wanted to collect them together.

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