Monday, April 22, 2019 | ePaper

New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

  • Print


A man looks at firearms on display at Gun City gunshop in Christchurch, New Zealand on Tuesday.

AFP, Christchurch :
New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing line.
John Hart, a farmer in the North Island district of Masterton, decided to give his semi-automatic rifle to police after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday plans to tighten gun laws in light of the slaughter Friday of 50 Muslim worshippers.
She also encouraged owners to surrender unnecessary firearms after it emerged that the accused mosque attacker, Australia white nationalist Brenton Tarrant, had legally acquired the guns he used in the rampage.
Hart said it was an easy decision for him to hand in his semi-automatic and tweeted that "on the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn't outweigh the risk of misuse. We don't need these in our country".
The tweet drew a barrage of derogatory messages to his Facebook account - most apparently from the US, where the pro-gun lobby is powerful and vociferous.
Hart deleted the messages but posted online: "A warm kia ora to all my new American Facebook friends."
"I'm not familiar with your local customs, but I assume 'Cuck' is a traditional greeting," he said of the insult, short for "cuckold', frequently used by far-right extremists.
Hart told AFP many of the messages made inaccurate references to his sexuality.
"It was very sudden. It started about the time the US east coast was waking up. There seemed to have been a rallying call," he said.
A more mild message, from Kaden Heaney asked: "What's the point of giving up yalls personal guns? Yall do realize what happens to societies that give up their guns right? Evil people will get their hands on guns, knives, bombs or whatever they want to kill no matter what the intentions of good people are. Who will protect you."
Christopher @offwhiteblogger said: "You did the right thing then; you clearly aren't responsible enough to own a firearm."
Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday.
But they issued a statement saying that "due to heightened security and the current environment, we would ask that people please call us first before attempting to surrender a firearm."
A person calling himself Blackstone tweeted: "this is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. Have owned a firearm for 31 years … Once I realised that, the only way I could go forward with a clear conscience was to hand it into the police for destruction."
Ardern has said that details of the government's proposed law changes on gun ownership will be announced by next week, but she indicated that gun buybacks and a ban on some semi-automatic rifles were under consideration. "As the Cabinet, we were absolutely unified and very clear: the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores, it was in fact one of the worst globally in recent times, it has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand's gun laws," she said.
New Zealand police, meanwhile, were investigating a suspicious fire at a gun club in the far north of the country, but were not immediately linking it to the current gun debate. There had also been a fire at the same club a year ago.

More News For this Category

Sudan's military council warns against road blocks as protests continue

Sudan's military council warns against road blocks as protests continue

Reuters, Khartoum : Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) warned on Monday against protesters blocking roads and limiting the movement of citizens as protests continued after president Omar al-Bashir was forced

Top Democrats leave open option of Trump impeachment after Mueller report

Top Democrats leave open option of Trump impeachment after Mueller report

Reuters, Washington :Top congressional Democrats left the door open on Sunday to the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations

News In Brief

Cambodian, Thai leaders mark reopening of rail linkAP, Phnom PenhThe leaders of Cambodia and Thailand met Monday at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet to mark the ceremonial reopening of

Egyptians vote in referendum to extend Sisi's rule

Egyptians vote in referendum to extend Sisi's rule

AFP, Cairo :Egyptians start voting Saturday in a referendum that aims to cement the rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former coup leader presenting himself as a rock

Turkey arrests suspected spies for UAE, investigating Khashoggi link

Turkey arrests suspected spies for UAE, investigating Khashoggi link

Reuters, Ankara :Turkey has arrested two suspects who confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and is investigating whether the arrival in Turkey of one

Peru's ex- President denies corruption, claims in suicide note

Peru's ex- President denies corruption, claims in suicide note

AFP, Lima :A suicide note in which Peru's Alan Garcia denied corruption charges against him set the backdrop Friday for the ex-president's funeral, two days after he put a

Trump rating drops 3 points to 2019 low post Mueller report

Trump rating drops 3 points to 2019 low post Mueller report

Reuters, New York  :The number of Americans who approve of President Donald Trump dropped by 3 percentage points to the lowest level of the year following the release of

News In Brief

Iraq to host regional rivals Iran, Saudi Arabia at conferenceReuters, Baghdad Iraq will host senior parliamentary officials from arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as Prime Minister Adel

 Assad calls for progress in stalled talks

Assad calls for progress in stalled talks

AFP, Damascus :Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday called for progress on a stalled buffer zone deal around jihadist-dominated Idlib region ahead of fresh talks aimed at ending his

Thousands of Peruvians say goodbye to ex-president following suicide

Thousands of Peruvians say goodbye to ex-president following suicide

Reuters, Lima :Thousand of Peruvians said goodbye on Thursday in Lima to ex-president Alan Garcia-who killed himself this week - in the second of three days of national mourning declared