New Zealand PM vows 'gun laws will change' after mass shooting at mosques

Image: New Zealand Parliamentarians React To Christchurch Attack
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. Copyright Hagen Hopkins
By Phil Helsel with NBC News World News
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The suspected gunman had a gun license acquired in November of 2017 and five firearms, the prime minister said.


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday vowed "our gun laws will change" after a mass shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch killed 49 people and wounded dozens more Friday.

Ardern said at a news conference that she was advised that the gunman had five firearms — two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm — and that he had a gun license acquired in November 2017.

"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change," Ardern said.

She noted that there have been attempts to change the nation's gun laws in the past, most recently in 2017, but said "now is the time for change."

One man, an Australian citizen, has been arrested and charged with murder in the attacks that authorities have called an unprecedented act of violence.

Two others were also arrested and "inquiries are ongoing to establish whether the other two who were arrested were directly involved with this incident," Ardern said.

None of those apprehended had a criminal history in New Zealand or Australia, and they were not on any watch lists in either country, Ardern said.

A fourth person taken into custody Friday "was a member of the public who was in possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police," the prime minister said, and that person has been released.

Officers responded to reports of shots fired on Friday afternoon. The two mosques are about three miles apart, and the second mosque was attacked about 45 minutes after the first.

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