Two mosques in the New Zealand City of Christchurch were targeted by gunmen today, in a mass shooting which has killed 49 people. Another 48 other people have been injured in the incident, which has been labelled a terror attack by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She later branded the day one of New Zealand’s “darkest days” and New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has advised mosques across the country to close their doors. One man in his late 20s has been arrested and charged with murder, and another two armed suspects have been remanded in custody.
What are New Zealand’s gun laws?
New Zealand is one of the countries in the Pacific with the most relaxed gun laws, and a military trading relationship with the US.
Owning a gun is legal in New Zealand as long as it is licensed with the government, and people as young as 16 are allowed to own a gun.
According to gunpolicy.org, the country is in the same league as the US when it comes to gun laws.
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The two nations are the only two in the world without some sort of universal gun regulation.
The government-led Thorpe report in 1997 found gun deaths were previously on the decline.
Despite lax gun laws, New Zealand gun-related deaths were on the decline in the 1990s and held steady in the early 2000s at a low rate.
In 2010, there were some 51 gun-related deaths, which works out to 1.20 deaths per 100,000 people in the country.
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New Zealand gun deaths have remained at a relatively constant number, rarely exceeding 60 per year.
Gunpolicy.org revealed the number of gun deaths over a 10-year period in New Zealand, from 2005 to 2015.
The numbers over this 10-year period are as follows:
– 2015: 55
– 2014: 52
– 2013: 59
– 2012: 53
– 2011: 43
– 2010: 51
– 2009: 71
– 2008: 56
– 2007: 55
– 2006: 58
– 2005: 55
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Different figures show civilians are increasing gun stockpiles in New Zealand however.
In a 12-year period from 2005 to 2017, civilian gun ownership increased by as much as 600,000.
Gun ownership figures from 2005 to 2017 are as follows:
– 2017: 1,500,000
– 2016: 1,320,000
– 2009: 1,200,000
– 2005: 925,000