New Zealand tightens gun laws further in response to mass shooting

Armed police officers stand guard outside the Christchurch District Court in New Zealand during a hearing against white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who pleaded guilty to shooting dead 50 Muslims during the March 15, 2019 attack on two mosques. (AFP)
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Updated 18 June 2020

New Zealand tightens gun laws further in response to mass shooting

  • The tougher gun laws will take effect next week
  • New Zealand’s efforts on gun control have gained global praise

WELLINGTON: New Zealand tightened its gun laws on Thursday with a registry that it had promised after a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers last year in the country’s worst peace-time mass shooting.
This is New Zealand’s second set of gun reforms in the wake of the Christchurch massacre by a suspected white supremacist who murdered his victims with semi-automatic weapons.
Australian Brenton Tarrant has pleaded guilty over the attack and will be sentenced later this year.
The tougher gun laws will take effect next week following the passage of a bill through Parliament on Thursday.
The most significant change is the new firearms registry which license holders will be required to update as they buy or sell guns.
“The new law is designed to stop firearms falling into the wrong hands. It spells out for the first time that owning a firearm is a privilege, limited to responsible licensed owners,” Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a statement.
Other changes include prohibiting high-risk firearms like short semi-automatic rifles, tighter rules for gun dealers, and reduced the length of firearms license from 10 to 5 years for first time license holders and those who had their license revoked or allowed it to expire.
The government had near-unanimous support in parliament last year when it passed a law banning military style semi-automatic firearms within weeks of the March 2019 attack.
The second round of changes passed on Thursday faced some resistance, with gun lobbyists and opposition leaders questioning the need for a gun registry.
New Zealand’s efforts on gun control have gained global praise, especially in the United States, where lawmakers in favor of gun control and activists have struggled to address gun violence.

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NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

Updated 23 October 2020

NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

  • “This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers
  • Turkey has deployed a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters

BRUSSELS: Turkey and Greece have agreed to cancel rival military exercises that were to have been held next week on their respective national days, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.
The neighbors, while NATO members, are at loggerheads over energy drilling and maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the alliance has set up a hotline to head off accidental clashes.
“This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers, including Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar.
“These are steps in the right direction, and it helps to reduce the risks for instance and accidents.”
Greece had been expected to conduct exercises on Wednesday October 28, its Oxi Day holiday, and Turkey on Thursday, celebrated there as Republic Day.
Turkey has deployed the Oruc Reis, a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters off the island of Kastellorizo, and Greek vessels are nearby.
Addressing a news conference after two days of talks on a variety of topics, Stoltenberg confirmed he had raised the situation with the Greek and Turkish ministers.
“I will say that we had a good and constructive talks and allies expressed a strong support for the NATO de-confliction mechanism,” Stoltenberg said.
“I welcome now the fact that we have been able to see some concrete steps in that direction with the cancelation of the two exercises.”
French Defense Minister Florence Parly also hailed the decisions to cancel the military exercises, stressing the need to “respect international law and restore stability in the region.”
Stoltenberg also welcomed Germany’s diplomatic mediation in the underlying dispute.
On Thursday, he had warned that — while NATO could help keep the rival militaries apart — it would be down to Ankara and Athens to open a dialogue to resolve their long-standing differences.