Christchurch terror shooting: Gun laws change, wrong man named dead

8:48 pm on 21 March 2019

In the aftermath of last Friday's Christchurch terror attacks, today saw all victims identified, sweeping changes to gun laws in New Zealand, and the revelation of a police mistake that led to a man wrongly being named as murdered when he was alive.

Local members of the Muslim community supported by many attending Blenheim's vigil.

Photo: Jim Tannock, All Rights Reserved

This afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced widespread changes to gun laws, banning all military-style weapons, assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and parts that could turn a weapon into a military-style weapon. The changes will be in place by 11 April.

"On 15 March our history changed forever," Ms Ardern said. "Now, our laws will too."

In the meantime, an order in council under the Arms Act was signed by the governor general to reclassify a wider range of semi-automatic weapons. This means until the ban takes effect, gun owners will need a Category E licence to the weapons that will be prohibited.

And Ms Ardern said there was little point in trying to get one.

"The effect of this is that it will prevent the sale of ... assault rifles to people with A category gun licences. The order in council is a transitional measure until the wider ban takes effect."

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Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

In a press conference following Ms Ardern's, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said all 50 victims of last week's attacks had been formally identified.

However, after RNZ reporters reviewed names and numbers of the dead, it was discovered that there were 51 names, not 50.

This meant police wrongly charged the Christchurch shooter with the murder of a person who - it emerged - turned out to be alive. That person's name is being suppressed by the court.

A police spokesperson said an error was made in the document laid in court during the first appearance of Brenton Tarrant.

Police said they apologised to the person incorrectly named on the document and would amend the document.

After getting confirmation from police one person was wrongly named as dead, the total number remains at 50.

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Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

Meanwhile, in Dunedin, more than 18,000 people packed into Forsyth Barr Stadium for a vigil to remember the victims of the terror attack

People were wearing hijabs in a show of solidarity with the Muslim community.

The crowd was addressed by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who called on New Zealand to ask hard questions of itself so the attacks were never repeated.

There were other vigils held around the country tonight as well.