New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that her country’s gun laws will change in the wake of Friday’s terror attack.
“I’ve already indicated there will be changes to our gun laws. This will be discussed in cabinet tomorrow,” said Arden during a press conference in Wellington, Sunday.
Until Friday, the biggest massacre in New Zealand’s history occurred 30 years ago, when a man named David Gray went on a shooting rampage, killing 13 people.
Following that attack, the nation’s gun laws — which were first passed in 1983 — came under scrutiny. The ensuing debate led to a 1992 amendment on the regulation of military-style semi-automatic firearms.
Despite those laws, New Zealand’s weapons legislation is considered more relaxed than most Western countries outside of the USA. Gun owners do need a license but they aren’t required to register their guns — unlike in neighboring Australia.
While authorities do not know exactly how many legally or illegally owned firearms are currently in circulation in New Zealand, estimates put the number at about 1.2 million, according to New Zealand Police. This figure equates to about one gun for every three people — a rate that is considered high when compared with Australia, which has 3.15 million guns, approximately one for every eight people.
Addressing the current gun laws, Arden said that change was required “regardless of activity that may have happened with gun retailers, they need to change.”
Arden said she would provide more detail as to those possible changes to firearms legislation following more detailed discussion with her cabinet Monday.