New Zealand to Open Inquiry Into What Officials Knew About Gunman Before Massacre

New Zealand to Open Inquiry Into What Officials Knew About Gunman Before Massacre

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Monday ordered an inquiry into what government officials knew about the gunman in Friday’s massacre before he carried out the attack that left 50 people dead at two mosques in Christchurch.

“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 whether they could have been in a position to prevent the attack,” she told reporters at an afternoon news conference in Wellington, the capital.

She also pledged to make changes to the country’s gun laws, saying that “within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms that I believe will have made our community safer.”

She said her cabinet had agreed “in principle” to a plan to overhaul gun laws, but that a few more days were needed to work out the details. Comparing New Zealand’s process to that of Australia — which enacted strict gun laws 12 days after a mass shooting in 1996 — she said, “We’ve taken 72 hours. There are still some details that needs to be worked through. I want to do that but still work as hard as we can.”

Her push for restrictions — over the objection of gun enthusiasts — landed just a few hours after new details emerged about the arsenal of the accused shooter, Brenton Tarrant, 28, showing that he obtained a basic firearms license in November of 2017 and bought four of his weapons online between then and March of 2018.

The authorities in Australia also raided the home of Mr. Tarrant’s’s sister in a beach town north of Sydney on Monday, and those in New Zealand continued searching his home in the town of Dunedin, about 220 miles south of Christchurch.

Wally Haumaha, the deputy New Zealand police commissioner, said identification specialists worked through the night to identify the people who had been killed, as families began mourning dead and wounded relatives.

Islamic leaders and victims’ families gathered in small groups and larger meetings to discuss whether to conduct a burial for all 50 victims at once, possibly on Wednesday.

Mr. Haumaha said the police hoped that the Muslim community will be able to return to the mosques for prayer by the end of the week.

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