New Zealand to tighten gun laws as mosque shooter faces murder charge

A right-wing extremist who shocked the world by massacring 49 Muslims in two mosques on Friday remained defiant as he faced the first murder charge at the district court in Christchurch, New Zealand, news reports say.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian from New South Wales, did not seek bail. His next court appearance is on April 5.

Tarrant seems to have acted alone and he live-streamed the assault using a headcam, said Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

The shootings in Al Noor and Linwood mosques happened seven minutes apart during Friday prayers and Tarrant, who drove off after committing the crime, was arrested in Brougham Street, Sydenham.

Condemning one of the worst acts of terror against Muslims, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government will toughen up gun laws to block access to weapons that can cause multiple casualties.

Tarrant used semi-automatic weapons, shotguns and a lever-action firearm in the attack. He acquired those dangerous weapons after obtaining a Category ‘A’ gun licence in November last year.

The government had made unsuccessful attempts to change gun laws in 2005, 2012 and in 2017. This time, stringent rules will be put in place, Ardern said.

Tarrant’s family from Grafton town in New South Wales contacted New Zealand police after the hearing about the attack and are helping them in the investigation.

Tarrant’s 74-page manifesto, which he is reported to have mailed to the prime minister’s office just 10 minutes before the mosque attacks, revealed a white supremacist.

It said the attack was revenge for the “invaders in European lands.”

Tarrant said he had been planning the attack over the past two years.

Tarrant has been living a quiet life in a small flat in Somerville St in Dunedin, a city in the South Island, for the past two years.

Neighbours said he travelled a lot and loved to talk about it.

Hundreds of them observed a candlelit vigil on Saturday to mark the terror attack and to express their support to the city’s Muslim community.