Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspected killer had a gun licence which enabled him to legally obtain semi-automatic weapons
New Zealand’s Prime Minister has vowed the country’s gun law will change as the suspected killer in the country’s deadly mosque attacks “had a gun licence”.
Jacinda Ardern told a press conference that the suspected killer had five firearms.
said the suspect had a Category A gun licence which enabled him to legally obtain semi-automatic weapons.
She said there were two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm.
He had obtained a gun licence in November 2017.
When asked by a reporter whether semi-automatic weapons should be banned, she said that it was one issue which should be examined.
She said: “Our gun laws will change.
There were attempts to change the law in 2005 and 2012, and after an inquiry in 2017.
“Now is the time for change.”
Ms Ardern said the suspected gunman was an Australian citizen who was not a resident of Christchurch and had been travelling.
She told media he was based in Dunedin, a city further south, before the event.
“This individual has travelled around the world with sporadic periods of time spent in New Zealand,” she told reporters.
“They were not a resident of Christchurch, in fact they were currently based in Dunedin at the time of this event.
“Inquiries are ongoing to establish whether the other two who were arrested were directly involved with this incident.
“The fourth person who was arrested yesterday was a member of the public who was in possession of a firearm, but with the intention of assisting police.
“They have since been released.”
Ardern said none of those arrested had a criminal history in New Zealand or Australia, and none of the trio were on any terror watch lists in either of the two countries.
“Today, as the country grieves, we are seeking answers,” she said.
Ms Ardern said advice for mosques to close remains in place and that a police presence will continue.
The Prime Minister added that the safety of the public remains “our highest priority”.
She said: “New Zealand police remain on high alert.
“Christchurch residents are urged to stay home and stay safe.”
Asked about allegations the emergency services were slow to respond to the attack, she said personnel on the ground had done everything they could.
She added the authorities would“ take that time for reflection” on the response.
She said she had to allow the police to continue a “very active operation”.
She said authorities would be exploring how the gunman came to travel to New Zealand.
Due to the close relationship between the neighbouring countries, citizens of both are able to move freely between Australia and New Zealand to live.
Extra police were on the ground in Christchurch, and intelligence operatives had been deployed around the country, Ardern said.
We’re maintaining vigilance. That is in order to maintain the security and safety of New Zealanders, which is our top priority”.
Ms Ardern said she had received calls from world leaders including including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald Trump, who offered their condolences.
A 28-year-old man charged with murder is due in court in Christchurch shortly.
The gunman has been named as Brenton Tarrant.
A total 49 people died and 42 people are being treated for injuries following attacks at the two mosques.