19 Mar 2019

Christchurch mosque attacks: Party leaders saying little on gun law reform

6:27 am on 19 March 2019

Governing parties are giving no clues on how the country's gun laws will change following Friday's terror attack in Christchurch.

PM Jacinda Ardern at today's press conference.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media Cabinet are united on the decision. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced little more than 12 hours after the attacks that there would be change, but it will be up to 10 days before the country knows how far the government will go.

A Cabinet meeting ran over by at least an hour yesterday but coalition parties insist they are united and that a provisional call has been made.

"We are of one mind. We are absolutely united as a Cabinet, Ms Ardern.

"This was a Cabinet decision and that is your total answer,"New Zealand First leader Winston Peters added.

Mr Peters had only a little more to say on the matter, before refusing further interviews.

"After 1pm on 15 March our world changed forever. And so will some of our laws."

Green Party referred for the second time to previous policy on gun reform.

ACT's David Seymour is pleased to see the government taking the time to get all of the information it needs.

"I think it's clear that gun laws will change in some way," he said. But without knowing how the attack was able to be carried out it was it was very difficult to say exactly how to improve the laws to prevent it happening again.

National Party leader Simon Bridges also refused to comment, with a spokesperson saying nothing new had happened so they were not sure what they were meant to comment on.

The government yesterday announced an inquiry into five government agencies, and their actions leading up to and during Friday's event, which could be on the scale of a Royal Commission.

Ms Ardern said it would cover the country's two spying agencies, the SIS and the GCSB, as well as police, customs and immigration.

"The purpose of this inquiry is to look at what all relevant agencies knew, or could or should have known, about the individual and his activities, including his access to weapons and if they could have been in a position to prevent the attack," she said.

It will also look at whether there were any impediments to sharing information, such as legislative or intelligence sharing challenges, she said.

Ms Ardern has not confirmed what sort of inquiry it will be, but said there were three options: a public inquiry, a ministerial inquiry or a royal commission.

Mr Seymour said it must be a full-scale royal commission.

"There is no way that this tragedy could warrant anything less than a royal commission with independent commissioners reporting to the Governor-General rather than the government of the day.

"Because whether we like it or not there are serious questions round the way that government agencies have performed."

Ms Ardern said she plans to announce the government's gun law changes by this time next week.

The terms of reference for the planned inquiry were being drawn up, she said, and would be released once the government had decided on which type of inquiry and who would lead it.

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