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  1. ITV Report

What are the weaknesses in New Zealand's gun laws new measures are likely to stop?

Police must grant authority to citizens for them to be allowed to possess a weapon. Credit: AP

Gun laws in New Zealand are set to change after the country's cabinet agreed to tighten legislation just days after a terrorist attack killed more than 50 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch.

The country's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said “in principle” decisions about gun law reform have been made, with further details to be announced early next week.

But what are the current rules on getting a gun in New Zealand?

Memorials have been placed to those killed and injured in the deadly attack. Credit: AP
  • What age is it possible to obtain a gun licence?

Guidance issued by New Zealand Police states the minimum age to obtain a gun licence is 16.

There are specific licencing conditions which dictate what type of weapons a person can possess. An enhanced licence is required for semi-automatic weapons more commonly used by military forces.

To be allowed to own military-style weapons, licence holders must be 18.

The Christchurch gunman did not have this enhanced level of accreditation, it was confirmed on Monday afternoon.

An example of a gun licence issued by New Zealand's police force. Credit: New Zealand Police
  • What checks do police carry out on candidates?

To get a gun licence in New Zealand candidates need to be considered a "fit and proper" person.

To establish this, police carry out criminal record and medical checks ahead of granting authority to a person wishing to obtain a weapon.

Two people who know the candidate well will be interviewed to check they are not a risk to the public or themselves.

Only if they pass those checks will they be allowed to purchase a firearm.

New Zealand's gun laws are set to change following the Christchurch attack. Credit: AP
  • What about registering weapons with authorities?

On Monday, the owner of a Christchurch gun store said it sold four firearms to the alleged mosque gunman. These weapons would not have been registered individually with authorities by the alleged attacker.

New Zealand law doesn't dictate weapons need to be registered. Once a gun licence is obtained, it is possible for the holder to obtain as many guns as they see fit.

It is one of the only countries in the world to have this rule, but this may change under reforms to be adopted by the country's government in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks.

  • Who isn't able to obtain a gun licence in New Zealand?

Official guidance from the country's police force states people who have been involved in domestic violence may be declined a licence, or have an existing licence revoked.

The service also notes it makes enquiries around candidates' involvement with drugs, use of alcohol and the relationships they hold with people already deemed unsuitable to possess weapons.

It states an indication of an intent to use firearms for self defence may be a reason to decline a licence application.

New Zealand's prime minister has visited those affected in the attacks. Credit: New Zealand Government Handout
  • How are the country's gun laws likely to change?

Precise details of changes to New Zealand's gun laws aren't yet known, but action to prevent further attacks is likely to be swift.

The country's prime minister said on Monday her government is "absolutely unified" on the issue, adding the attack "exposed a range of weaknesses," in its gun laws.

New Zealand hopes to set an example for the rest of the world on how to react to attacks using firearms, leading the way for countries like the USA which has been historically been slow to react to similar attacks.

Announcing the reforms, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our communities safer."