New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Promises To Toughen Gun Laws After Devastating Terrorist Attack

Mark TantrumGetty Images

New Zealand suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history on Friday, when a gunman opened fire on two mosques while worshippers were praying. According to The Guardian, the man accused of planning and carrying out the shooting, Brenton Tarrant, had a license to carry firearms and obtained his semi-automatic weapons legally. In a press conference on Saturday, New Zealand time, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden vowed to strengthen their gun laws in the wake of the attack.

“I can tell you one thing right now: our gun laws will change,” said Ardern. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change.”

Unlike Australia and the United Kingdom, New Zealand permits its citizens to own semi-automatic firearms like the type that were confiscated from Tarrant after his arrest. The country has had a low murder rate for several years, however. As New Zealand’s reported last year, there were 35 homicides in 2017, which works out to about seven per million people. On Friday, the gunman killed 49 people in total during the Christchurch massacre, which means there were more murders in one day than there had been in an entire year.

The country experienced one of its highest murder rates in 1986 when there were 24 murders for every million people.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian man, has been charged with murder. According to The Guardian, four people were arrested in connection with the attack, but one man was released after the authorities determined that he was simply an armed bystander.

As The Inquisitr previously reported, Tarrant posted a lengthy manifesto in which he explained his radical views. In it, he described himself as an “ordinary white man” who was not particularly academic and who had made some money after investing in cryptocurrencies. He also described himself as a “kebab removalist,” which is a code word for the killing of Muslims.

The Inquisitr also previously noted that he called Ebba Akerlund, an 11-year-old girl who died after a terrorist attack in Stockholm, as one of the reasons why he adopted radical views. A Muslim man from Uzbekistan was jailed for life for the attack.

In her first press conference after the news broke, Jacinda Ardern described it as one of “New Zealand’s darkest days.” She has also said that President Donald Trump had communicated his condolences to her, The Guardian reports.

“He asked what support the U.S. could provide,” she said. “My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”