New Zealand Cabinet backs gun law reforms days after mosque shootings

New Zealand’s Cabinet has backed changes to gun laws in the country just three days after 50 people were killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Police have also confirmed they believe “absolutely” that only one perpetrator was responsible for the attacks during Friday prayers.

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, has been charged with murder and appeared at court on Saturday. He was remanded until April 5.

On Monday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the Cabinet had made “in principle” decisions about gun law reform, with further details to be announced by next Monday.

“This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our communities safer,” she said.

Ms Ardern said the Cabinet was “absolutely unified”, and said the shootings had “exposed a range of weaknesses” in New Zealand’s gun laws.

She added that there would be an inquiry into the events leading up to the attacks.

It also emerged that the alleged perpetrator bought four weapons online from a gun store in Christchurch.

David Tipple, owner of Gun City, said the alleged gunman bought four “A category” firearms and ammunition through a “police-verified online mail order process”.

Mr Tipple told reporters: “I returned from Europe on Saturday and immediately searched all our purchase records and found the alleged gunman’s purchases. I provided the police with full details of the sales.

“We detected nothing extraordinary about this licence holder.”

David Tipple
Gun City owner David Tipple during a press conference on Monday (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

He added: “The MSSA (military-style semi-automatic) reportedly used by the alleged gunman was not purchased from Gun City.”

Mr Tipple said he and his staff were “devastated” by the shootings, adding: “We can’t comprehend how such despicable actions could be carried out on those in prayer in their place of worship.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police were confident a lone attacker was responsible for the shootings.

“We believe absolutely there was only one attacker responsible for this,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean there weren’t possibly people in support and that is to form an important part of our investigation.”

Students raise candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
Students raise candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

On Monday morning, two homes in New South Wales, Australia, were raided by police in connection with the mosque attacks.

Officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team executed a search warrant at a home in the town of Sandy Beach, near Coffs Harbour, 330 miles north of Sydney, at 8.30am (9.30pm Sunday GMT).

A short time later, a second warrant was executed at a home further north in Lawrence, near MacLean.

New South Wales Police said: “The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation.”

“The family of the Australian man arrested in Christchurch continues to assist police with their inquiries.”

Thirty-one people remain in Christchurch Hospital after the mass shootings, nine of them in intensive care.

A four-year-old girl is in a critical condition in Starship Hospital in Auckland, while her father is in the same hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The shootings took place at two mosques in Christchurch
The shootings took place at two mosques in Christchurch (PA Graphics)

Tarrant appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.

On Sunday, Ms Ardern said her office was one of more than 30 recipients of an emailed copy of the manifesto just nine minutes before guns were fired.

Facebook said it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack worldwide in the 24 hours after the shootings, 1.2 million of which were blocked at upload.

Of those killed in the massacre, 42 died at the Masjid Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue in central Christchurch, seven were killed at the suburban Linwood Masjid Mosque, and one person died at Christchurch Hospital.

In the video live-streamed by Tarrant, a man inside a mosque appears to say: “Welcome brother”, as a gunman approaches.

A number of improvised explosive devices found on a vehicle after the shootings were defused by police.

British security sources said there were no apparent UK links to the attack.

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