Christchurch shootings: Suspect bought guns, ammunition online

Christchurch shootings: Suspect bought guns, ammunition online

A police officer is pictured outside Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch
A police officer is pictured outside Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

WELLINGTON: The owner of a New Zealand gun store said on Monday (Mar 18) that the man charged with murder in Christchurch's mass shootings had bought weapons online from the store.

"I've informed the police that Gun City sold the alleged gunman bought four A Category firearms and ammunition," David Tipple from Gun City Limited told a media conference.

"All Gun City sales to this individual followed a police-verified online mail-order process."

Tipple added, however, that the high-powered military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) used in the mosque shootings was not from his shop.

"We didn't sell him a rifle used in the incident. I watched the video, I saw the rifle, and I know for sure where it came from - if it has the serial number that I expect - and it was not from any Gun City affiliated store," he said.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on Apr 5 where police said he is likely to face more charges.

Fifty people were killed and dozens wounded at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to toughen gun laws in the country. She said that firearms including two semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns and a lever-action weapon were bought legally and used in the attacks.

On Monday, the prime minister said her Cabinet has agreed " in principle" to measures to tighten gun control laws.

Details of the measures would be rolled out before a Cabinet meeting next Monday, saying "the time to act is now".

"This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer."

She said an inquiry will look at the lead-up to attack and what might have been done differently. 

READ: Australian police search homes linked to New Zealand mosque gunman

READ: New Zealand PM vows gun reforms after racist Christchurch mosque massacre

Under New Zealand gun laws A-category weapons can be semi-automatic but limited to seven shots. Video of the gunman in the mosque showed a semi-automatic with a large magazine round.

Tipple said the guns were bought in three or four purchases.

"We detected nothing extraordinary about the licence holder. He was a brand new purchaser, with a brand new licence," he said.

READ: Christchurch workers, students return after New Zealand mosque shootings

READ: Hero refugee chased gunman away from New Zealand mosque

A standard A-category firearm licence is issued after a police and background check. No licence is required to buy a large round magazine, which can be illegally modified for use in such a weapon.

Only firearm owners are licensed, not weapons, so there is no monitoring of how many weapons a person may possess.

The minimum age for a gun licence is 16, and 18 to own a semi-automatic weapon.

During the press conference, Tipple did not to answer direct questions about the use of firearms sold from his shop, indicating this was not the time for a debate about guns.

Asked if he held any sense of responsibility, Tipple said: "No, I do not."

He added he would continue to sell weapons to anyone with the same credentials as the gunman.

It was the responsibility of the police to vet firearms licence applications, he said.

Latest available statistics show police approved 99.6 per cent of nearly 45,000 applications in 2017 when Tarrant received his licence.

Source: Reuters/AFP/na/aj

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