New Zealand gun lobby backs ban after Christchurch mosques attack

3:04am on Tuesday 30th April 2019
Government announced immediate ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles after the shooting.

New Zealand will crack down on firearms ownership this week after the Christchurch mosques massacre that killed 50 people.

In stark contrast to the United States, where even the most minor curbs on gun ownership meet ferocious opposition led by the National Rifle Association, New Zealand gun owners agree action is needed.

"We want to support our government in any changes to prevent a terrorist attack from happening in New Zealand again," said Nicole McKee, secretary of the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's government announced an immediate ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs) after the shooting and will put laws to parliament formalising its action on Tuesday.

"Be assured this is just the beginning of the work we'll be doing," Ardern told a news conference last month.Finalising such legislation can often take months but Ardern said the matter was so urgent it will be done by April 11.

"It's in the national interest and it's about safety ... to prevent an act of terror from ever happening again in our country," she said of the ban.

Further curbs - potentially including a gun register, tighter vetting and stricter gun storage rules - are set to be passed by the end of the year.

One of New Zealand's largest gun retailers, Hunting & Fishing, voluntarily stopped selling MSSAs and halted online firearms sales.

"Such weapons of war have no place in our business or our country," said chief executive Darren Jacobs.

New Zealand has its own National Rifle Association, but since the shooting, it has taken great pains to point out it is a small sporting organisation, not a wealthy political lobby group like its American counterpart.

"Our members shoot with single-shot bolt action rifles at paper targets," said president Malcolm Dodson. 

The suspect, self-confessed white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, is expected to appear in court on April 5.

He is expected to face more charges of murder during the hearing in which he is set to represent himself.

In a rambling "manifesto", Tarrant said he was motivated partly by a desire to stoke religious conflict between Islam and the West by targetting "invaders".