CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is vowing to strengthen firearms laws in the wake of a massacre at two mosques in Christchurch that left 50 people dead and more than 40 injured.
“Our gun laws will change,” she said. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017, now is the time for change.”
She said five guns were used by the primary perpetrator of Friday’s attack, including two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns.
The shooter was in possession of a gun licence obtained in November 2017.
At least 50 people were shot to death at two mosques during midday prayers Friday — most if not all of them gunned down by an immigrant-hating white supremacist who apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.
It was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history.
"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.
She pronounced it "one of New Zealand's darkest days."
The gunman who carried out at least one of the mosque attacks posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media under the name Brenton Tarrant, identifying himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
He also livestreamed in graphic detail 17 minutes of his rampage at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he sprayed worshippers with bullets over and over, killing at least 41 people. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later.