New Zealand tightens gun laws again after mosque massacre

Armed police officers stand guard outside the Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand on May 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 September 2019

New Zealand tightens gun laws again after mosque massacre

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern immediately banned military style semi-automatic rifles after the shootings in March
  • ‘Owning a firearm is a privilege not a right’

WELLINGTON: New Zealand unveiled new legislation Friday aimed at ensuring only “fit and proper” people can own guns in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks that killed 51 Muslim worshippers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had immediately banned military style semi-automatic rifles after the shootings in March but said further restrictions were needed to target the black market.
“Owning a firearm is a privilege not a right,” she told reporters in Christchurch on Friday.
“That means we need to do all we can to ensure that only honest, law-abiding citizens are able to obtain firearms licenses and use firearms.”
Under the new legislation, a registry will be set up that is designed to track ownership of every legally owned firearm in the country.
The measure also increases the jail term for supplying firearms to an unlicensed person from three months to two years, as well as tightening gun importation and sales.
Police will determine if someone is “fit and proper” to hold a license, with power to exclude anyone promoting extremism, convicted of violent crime or with mental health issues, including attempted suicide.
The register, expected to take five years to complete, will contain details of the estimated 1.2 million firearms in New Zealand, for a population of around five million.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the existing gun legislation was introduced in 1983 and needed updating.
The alleged Christchurch gunman Brenton Tarrant legally obtained an arsenal of rifles before embarking on the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s modern history.
The self-avowed white supremacist is accused of opening fire at two mosques while livestreaming his actions on social media.
He has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act.
In addition to the semi-automatic ban, the first round of gun law reforms included a firearms buyback scheme allowing the public to hand in weapons before a six-month amnesty expires.
The Christchurch killings rocked New Zealand and Ardern’s gun reforms have been generally accepted in the South Pacific nation.
There has been some opposition, including from the conservative ACT Party, which said law-abiding firearms owners were not receiving a fair hearing.
“We also oppose a gun register because such an exercise will cost a significant sum of taxpayer money but will not capture the criminals and gang members who hold firearms,” ACT leader David Seymour said.


Most overrated? Ex-US defense chief Mattis laughs off Trump insult at charity gala

Updated 14 min 53 sec ago

Most overrated? Ex-US defense chief Mattis laughs off Trump insult at charity gala

  • Trump demeaned Mattis as “the world’s most overrated general" when pressed about his unpopular Syria pullout decision
  • Mattis resigned as defense secretary last December after Trump said he intended to pull 2,000 American troops out of Syria
NEW YORK: Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis is laughing off an insult hurled at him by President Donald Trump.
Speaking at a New York charity event Thursday the day after Trump demeaned him as “the world’s most overrated general,” Mattis joked that he took it as a compliment.
“I’m not just an overrated general. I’m the greatest, the world’s most overrated,” he told diners at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.
“I’m honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress,” he said. “So I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me.”
Trump lashed out at his former defense secretary Wednesday, during a contentious White House meeting with members of Congress.
The meeting was intended to be a bipartisan discussion of Trump’s decision to pull US forces from northern Syria, but it broke up after a testy exchange between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Before the walkout, Trump disparaged Mattis, who had argued as defense secretary that US troops were needed in Syria to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State fighters.
Trump said Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.”
“I captured Daesh,” Trump went on to say.
Mattis resigned as defense secretary last December after Trump said he intended to pull 2,000 American troops out of Syria. In his resignation letter, the retired Marine general told Trump he had “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”
Since then, he has largely refrained from criticizing the administration publicly, saying he owed the commander in chief “a duty of silence.”
But he did save a zinger for Trump at the laughter-filled gala, saying the “overrated” moniker didn’t bother him.
“I earned my spurs on the battlefield ... and Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor,” Mattis joked.
On a serious note, Mattis alluded to Trump’s decision to have US troops stand down in Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to launch an offensive against Kurdish forces who had been US allies in the fight against the Daesh group. On Thursday, the US and Turkey agreed to a five-day cease-fire that requires the Kurdish fighters to vacate, largely solidifying Turkey’s position in the region.
“We owe a debt to all who fought for liberty, including those who tonight serve in the far corners of our planet, among them the American men and women supporting our Kurdish allies,” Mattis said.
The annual gala draws luminaries from finance and politics. Hosted by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, the benefit is named after a former New York governor who was the first Catholic to receive a major party nomination for president in 1928, before losing the general election.