New Zealand shootings — another licensed gun owner

by Gun Control Network on 19-03-2019

Like almost all mass killers, the Christchurch shooter is a licensed gun owner. 

It’s a familiar story.

In the sixteen deadliest mass shootings in Europe between 1987 and 2015, 86% of the victims were shot by a licensed shooter, yet gun owners repeatedly claim that only unlicensed gun users are the problem.  The evidence confirms this is not true.  Licensed gun owners are not automatically ‘good citizens’ and governments everywhere need to stand up to their shooting lobbies and tighten their gun laws.

If the Christchurch killer had stayed in his native Australia, he could not have legally obtained his semi-automatic rifles.  His crime was made possible by gaps in New Zealand’s gun laws.

In 1997, one year after the tragedy of the Dunblane shootings here in the UK, a high court judge in New Zealand conducted a review of Firearms Control and made a number of recommendations.  Because of opposition by shooting groups, not one of those recommendations was implemented.  Now, after last week’s horrific killings, legislators are coming to their senses.  Let’s hope that public outrage will enable politicians the world over to make the changes required to keep the public safe.

Gill Marshall-Andrews, Chair of the Gun Control Network says:

“The shocking killings in Christchurch affect everyone, everywhere and our thoughts are with those families affected.  It is so very sad that it takes an event like this to jolt governments into reviewing their gun laws.

Here in UK, we did take action after our own tragedy in Dunblane in 1996.  Handguns were banned in the teeth of opposition from the shooting lobby, and other controls have been implemented since then. But there is still much to be done. 

For a start, we should be licensing every gun every two or three years.  Shooters should be paying the full cost of their licences, which taxpayers are currently subsidising.  GPs should be flagging up gun owners on their records and notifying police of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and mental illness.  The Home office should be collecting more accurate data on legally-held weapons used in crime and suicide.  Airguns should be registered in England and Wales, as they are in Scotland.

GCN has been meeting ministers regularly to urge these matters but too often this Government is in thrall to the shooters and will not do anything to upset them.  The Christchurch tragedy is yet another wake-up call – and not just for New Zealand.”