Mourners lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand. File/AP
New Zealand further tightened its firearms laws on Thursday in the wake of the last year's Christchurch mosques massacre, when a lone gunman murdered 51 Muslim worshippers.
Parliament passed legislation to establish a firearms registry to track every gun in the country and ensure only a "fit and proper person" can hold a firearms licence.
It follows a ban on military-style semi-automatic rifles and a nationwide gun buyback enacted shortly after the March 2019 killing spree by Australian national Brenton Tarrant, a self-avowed white supremacist.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the legislation was an important step in making New Zealand a safer place after last year's "devastating" killings, the worst mass shooting in the country's modern history.
"But it does not define us, what defines us is the actions we took to stop such a terror attack happening again," he said.
Nash said the registry would finally provide police with data on how many firearms were in legal circulation, while the fit and proper person test would ensure gun owners were responsible enough to own a firearm.
Other changes include tougher punishments for illegal firearm possession and closing a loophole that allowed a foreigner like Tarrant to legally purchase an arsenal of weapons before the massacre.
The New Zealand Police Association said the legislation was long overdue.
"This law will, along with continued vigilance by police, gun owners and communities, mitigate the flow of guns into the hands of those who want them for criminal reasons," president Chris Cahill said.
Tarrant is being held in a high-security jail after pleading guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism.
He is yet to be sentenced because of delays in the court system caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A New Zealand man was sentenced to 21 months in prison on Tuesday for distributing videos of a massacre at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, media reported. The lone gunman who killed 51 people
The new legislation would tighten the rules for gun owners and dealers to get and keep a licence, which would have to be renewed every five years, and prohibit visitors to New Zealand from buying a gun,
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern introduced a new bill to parliament on Friday that aims to further tighten gun laws, as the country marks six months since the mass shooting in Christchurch that killed 51 Muslim worshippers
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about three kms from the city centre.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," he said at the White House before leaving for two major diplomatic summits in Europe.
Four explosions were heard at around 6:30am (0330 GMT), half an hour after air raid sirens sounded in the capital, which has not come under Russian bombardment for nearly three weeks.