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    NZ Firearm Laws ‘Enabled’ Christchurch Mosque Attacks – Gun Control Expert

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    Deadly Attack on Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand (61)
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    New Zealand’s national security threat level has been raised, as announced by the country’s rime minister following the attack. Meanwhile, media reports say that blasts were heard near a train station and a shopping mall in Auckland, and an investigation is currently underway.

    9 people were killed and more than 20 injured as a result of the shootings at two mosques in New Zealand's east coast city of Christchurch during Friday prayers. According to the country's prime minister, the terrorist attack was "well-planned."

    READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Mosques Shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Three men and a woman are in police custody following the attacks, according to the authorities. Footage taken by the shooter has emerged, which he appeared to have live-streamed as he shot victims in a mosque. Police have called on the public not to share the "extremely distressing" material online.

    Sputnik discussed the attack with Professor Philip Alpers, founding director of GunPolicy.org, a global project of the Sydney School of Public Health which compares armed violence, firearm injury prevention and gun law across 350 jurisdictions world-wide.

    Sputnik: What can you say about this incident in light of New Zealand's current gun laws? I know that in 1990 there was a mass shooting and afterwards there was stricter gun regulation introduced in New Zealand. What can you say about that legislation? Do you think that gun control has really been highlighted due to this latest incident?

    Philip Alpers: Certainly, it has been highlighted and New Zealand has some of the more stringent gun laws in the world, in developed countries, but it also has very large gaps. And one of those big gaps is that they almost alone, with the United States and Canada, don't register 90 percent of their firearms. The gun owners are licensed but each firearm is not registered. It's very uncommon; that is one of the pillars of gun control around the world. Russia, for example, registers firearms, the United Kingdom, Japan, virtually everybody; but New Zealand does not for its own reasons. And that probably would have made it quite a lot easier for the offender, the perpetrator, to get hold of the firearm. It appears that one of the people arrested is a 28-year-old male from Australia, and if he had tried to buy those firearms and commit that crime in Australia, he would have found it very difficult to do because those guns are banned. However, he went to New Zealand and he did it there, and that's largely because it seems that that could have been what made it possible for him to obtain the semi-automatic firearms that he obviously used.

    Sputnik: What is the primary difference between Australian and New Zealand's gun laws?

    Philip Alpers: The primary difference is that in New Zealand 96 per cent of civilian firearms are not registered. In other words nobody is held personally responsible for each firearm. It is still perfectly legal to sell a firearm to another person in, let's say, a carpark of a hotel and keep no record of that transaction; it's quite legal to keep no record of every transaction of a common or garden firearm. And that makes that very easy for firearms to circulate into criminal hands.

    Sputnik: Basically, the Australian laws are more stringent than New Zealand's, is that correct?

    Philip Alpers: Certainly they are. Australia has the most holistic, the most complete set of gun laws in the world. They are not quite as tight as in some countries. For example, Singapore has the death penalty for firearm possession, the United Kingdom has banned all handguns, that's pistols and revolvers, Australia hasn't gone that far. But when you look at the entirety of all their firearm laws, they have the most complete suite of gun laws of any nation in the world.

    READ MORE: Mosque Attacker in New Zealand's Christchurch an Australian Citizen — PM

    Sputnik: Am I correct in understanding that you feel that the fact the laws are less stringent in New Zealand made New Zealand the choice as a soft target for the perpetrators?

    Philip Alpers: We can only speculate on that. I mean I've never met those men, I have certainly not questioned them and we'll have to wait for the trial and the evidence to come out for that one. But the prime minister of Australia has already attributed that possibility to this young man. So, it's certainly a factor that everybody is going to look at very closely in the next few days.

    Sputnik: What can we expect going forward? Jacinda Ardern has come out and said that this is a terrorist act and a very dark day for New Zealand; I think that she's fully understood how this is going to change New Zealand really forever because it's absolutely unprecedented in the number of deaths and really in many ways. Do you think that we are going to see an extensive, redoing, rewriting of the gun laws as well as, perhaps, some other measures that are aimed at halting extremist ideology?

    Philip Alpers: It's impossible to forecast the future, but I would be very surprised if New Zealand and its current government after this terrible shock doesn't make some very swift moves. It's been referred, here in Australia, as Jacinda Ardern's Port Arthur moment. And that means that after Port Arthur the prime minister of Australia suddenly decided that this type of firearm would be banned and that a whole raft of new laws would be brought in. He took only 12 days to make those legal changes, and since then the risk of dying by gunshot in Australia has dropped by more than half and stayed there for the last 23 years.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Topic:
    Deadly Attack on Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand (61)

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