New Zealanders give up weapons after mosque killings

A police commander said 903 gun owners in the Canterbury area had registered 1,415 firearms to be handed in. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

New Zealanders give up weapons after mosque killings

  • The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was held in Christchurch
  • 51 Muslim worshippers were gunned down while at prayer less than four months ago

Christchurch, New Zealand: Dozens of New Zealanders handed in their firearms Saturday as a gun buyback scheme went into operation aimed at ridding the country of semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.
The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was held in Christchurch where 51 Muslim worshippers were gunned down while at prayer less than four months ago.
The government, with support from opposition parties, immediately rushed through legislation to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the one objective was to “remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation.”
With armed police monitoring the handover, 68 firearms owners handed in 97 weapons and 94 parts and accessories in the first two hours.
The regional police commander Mike Johnson said 903 gun owners in the Canterbury area had registered 1,415 firearms to be handed in.
“Police recognize that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them,” Johnson said.
Ray Berard, who moved to New Zealand from Canada 25 years ago, handed in an assault rifle and told reporters he had been in the Canadian army and on the Canada shooting team but believed there was no place for military-style firearms in modern society.
“My wife is working as one of the project directors on the hospital rebuild and we were there on the day of the shooting and watched the 35-odd hearses leave the next day,” he said.
A person can “do a lot of damage to a lot of people... if you’re mentally unwell and you have a weapon that can shoot 100 rounds a minute.”
Australian-born Brenton Tarrant has been charged with the killings and is alleged to have used an arsenal of five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs), in the attacks on two mosques.
He has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, as well as 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder.


Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

Updated 26 February 2020

Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

  • Clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law
  • Unrest is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades

NEW DELHI: Riot police patrolled the streets of India’s capital on Wednesday and the city’s leader called for a curfew following battles between Hindus and Muslims that claimed at least 20 lives.
The two days of unrest — which has seen clashes between mobs armed with swords and guns — is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades.
The clashes come amid worsening religious tensions following a citizenship law that critics say is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, called Wednesday for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over flashpoint northeastern districts.
“Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control the situation and instill confidence,” Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“Army (should) be called in and curfew imposed.”
The clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law, then descended into pitched battles between the mobs.
Twenty people died and nearly 200 others were wounded in the first two days of violence, the director of the hospital where people were taken, told AFP on Wednesday.
Sixty people had suffered gunshot wounds, according to the director, Sunil Kumar.
The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighborhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes.
“People are killing (each other). Bullets are being fired here,” a tailor in the Jaffrabad area told AFP, adding that he was returning home to his village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“There is no work... It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?“
On Wednesday morning AFP saw people cleaning out the blackened and trashed interior of a mosque in the Ashok Nagar area burned out during the violence.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hindu religious flag and an Indian flag.
The new citizenship law has raised worries abroad that Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The law expedites the citizenship applications for persecuted minorities from India’s three Muslim-majority neighboring countries, but not if they are Muslim.
The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday.
But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.