New Zealand's history of gun ownership could be upended

New Zealand’s history of gun ownership could be upended

Gun Rights

Flower rest at a road block, as a Police officer stands guard near the Linwood mosque, site of one of the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) There are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand – roughly one for every three citizens. While that rate pales in comparison to the United States and more than a dozen other countries, it’s an eye-popping amount for a country that rarely encounters gun violence. The country’s gun roots run deep, going back centuries to when European explorers first sought to conquer the territory as well as to its thriving hunting, farming and sports shooting culture. It’s that culture that has meant fewer restrictions on rifles or shotguns, while handguns are more tightly controlled. And while many other countries – most notably the United States – have experienced high rates of gun homicides, New Zealand has been largely immune. Friday’s mass shooting at two mosques, claiming the lives of at least 49 people, could change all that. “It already has shaken the country to the core,” said Philip Alpers , the founding director of, which examines gun laws around the world. “I can’t imagine a country less likely to just offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ and then just move on.” Less than 24 hours after the massacre, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was already vowing to change the country’s gun laws, though she didn’t immediately specify how. The “primary perpetrator” […]

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