New Zealand shootings: Gun laws considered more relaxed than most nations

Friday's mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was the worst in the country in nearly three decades. With at least 49 people confirmed dead, that tops the 35 homicides that were reported in New Zealand during 2017.

>> Read more trending news

On Nov. 13, 1990, 13 people -- including two 6-year-old children -- were killed in the town of Aramoana,when David Gray went on a shooting spree with two semi-automatic rifles, the Brisbane Times reported.

That mass shooting sparked more stringent gun laws in New Zealand, which were first passed in 1983, the newspaper reported. However, New Zealand's gun regulations are considered more relaxed than many other countries, including the United States. Debate after the 1990 attack led to a 1993 amendment that regulated military-style weapons, CNN reported.

The Times reported that there are 1.5 million guns in New Zealand, or one for every three people. Estimates by New Zealand Police put that figure at 1.2 million, CNN reported.

New Zealand's gun laws currently operate on a "licensing but no registration" system, meaning that a majority of firearms in the country do not need to be registered, the Australian Financial Review reported. The system does include background and reference checks, along with safety training and a written test, the newspaper reported.

A person must be at least 16 to own a gun, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Carrying a gun is only allowed for people who have a "lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose," such as hunting, pest control or sports shooting, the newspaper reported. Self-defense is not considered a reason to own a gun, the Morning Herald reported.

New Zealand police officers are not normally armed, CNN reported. However, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the New Zealand Police Association, 66 percent of its members favored arming officers, TVNZ reported.

The largest mass killing in New Zealand before Friday's shootings in Christchurch came when 49 people were killed in 1943 at a camp for Japanese prisoners of war, the New Zealand Herald reported. On Feb. 25, 1943, guards at a Featherston camp shot and killed 48 prisoners; one guard also was killed during the riot, the newspaper reported.

About the Author