New Zealand terror suspect chose specific firearms for ‘effect’ with aim to stoke political division in U.S.

Evie Fordham, DCNF

  • An alleged gunman behind Friday’s deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, reportedly chose to attack with firearms to stoke political strife in the U.S. and the entire world. 
  • New Zealand and U.S. gun laws share some similarities, but in many respects New Zealand’s laws are stricter.
  • Forty-eight people died in two mosques in New Zealand Friday, and one person succumbed to their injuries after being rushed to the hospital. 
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

An alleged gunman behind Friday’s deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, reportedly chose to attack with firearms to stoke political strife in the U.S. and the entire world.

“I chose firearms for the effect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the effect it could have on the politics of United States and thereby the political situation of the world,” the man allegedly wrote in a manifesto according to The Guardian.

New Zealand and U.S. gun laws share some similarities, but in many respects New Zealand’s laws are stricter. The shootings that left at least 49 dead have already prompted headlines from outlets like CNN about New Zealand’s “lax” gun laws.

Like in the United States and Canada, most guns in New Zealand do not need to be registered. The country does not require registry for most rifles and shotguns for people over the age of 16 with entry-level firearm licenses, according to Yahoo! News. Only about 4 percent of its guns are registered, according to researcher Philip Alpers quoted by The Guardian.

In the U.S., federal law bars the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to create any system of registration of firearms or firearm owners, according to the Giffords Law Center. Some states like New York have registries for weapons they define as assault weapons.

New Zealand did away with its national gun registry in 1983 when the government determined it was cost-inefficient. However, advocates of a national gun registry in the country have continued to push for its return.

The U.S. House’s gun control legislation would also require background checks on all individuals buying guns, whether they purchase in-store, at a gun show or via the internet. This would close the so-called “gun show loophole” that does not require sellers at gun shows to conduct checks, although many venues and states have laws that require those kinds of sellers to conduct background checks.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Police conducts background checks on all aspiring gun owners. Self-defense is not considered a sufficient reason to purchase a gun, and two individuals, including a spouse or parent, must vouch for the potential gun owner in an interview with police, reported The Brisbane Times.

New Zealanders possess an estimated 1.2 million firearms, meaning the country has a rate of roughly one gun per three people, according to The Guardian. That rate is much lower than the rate in the U.S., where some estimate there are more guns than people.

Forty-one people died at the Al Noor mosque and seven at the Linwood mosque in New Zealand Friday, according to CNN. One person succumbed to their injuries after being rushed to the hospital.

Media reports have linked the attack to 28-year-old Australian man Brenton Tarrant. The man is also linked to the manifesto posted online, reported The Guardian.

Police charged a man in his 20s with murder.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed authorities arrested an Australian man in New Zealand.

An Australian senator is drawing ire after blaming Muslims for the horrific mass shootings just hours after the details began to emerge.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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