In mid-March, a deadly shooting at two mosques in the quiet city of Christchurch, New Zealand prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to vow that the country’s gun laws would change. The attack, perpetrated by an Australian white supremacist who posted a 74-page manifesto on social media and live-streamed the carnage, resulted in nearly 50 deaths and dozens of injuries – including a number of children.
The 28-year-old shooter was arrested and charged with murder, and police tweeted that he would be charged with a series of other crimes, as well. Two other people were also arrested, but their connection to the case isn’t certain.
“As soon as New Zealanders hear that someone was legally able to acquire, as I’m advised, those weapons and carry out this event, that will raise enormous questions with our gun laws, and that is why we will respond swiftly,” Ardern said. She also said that she was evaluating a ban on semi-automatic weapons like those used in the attacks.
None of the people arrested for the mass shootings had a criminal history – neither in New Zealand nor in Australia – and none were on government watch lists, either.
The perpetrator got his gun license, a requirement in Australia, in 2017. He began stockpiling weapons the next month. The weapons he used were decorated with white supremacist symbols, and he appears to have been radicalized on the darkest recesses of the internet – a hate-filled message board where white supremacists gather. The shooter posted a message to the board that said, “Well lads, it’s time… to make a real life effort post… by the time you read this I should be going live.”
The accused mass-murderer was looking for “revenge” against Muslims, and he claims to have chosen Christchurch because he wanted to show that nowhere was safe. His manifesto says that he was motivated by “white genocide.”
What Do You Think?
Do you think PM Ardern is justified in changing New Zealand’s gun laws after an Australian citizen committed a mass shooting? What do you think an appropriate response would be? I’d love to hear your take, so please join the conversation on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.