Gun laws to change in wake of Christchurch terror attack - 'People will be seeking change'

New Zealand's gun laws will change in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, with the Prime Minister looking at banning semi-automatic weapons.

Jacinda Ardern has also instructed agencies to assess whether there was any social media or other activity that should have triggered a response prior to the attack. 

"Today as the country grieves, we are seeking answers. While the nation grapples with a form of grief and anger that we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers."

Five guns were used by the primary perpetrator in the attack, two semi-automatic weapons and two shotguns. 

A leather action firearm was also found, she said. 

The offender was in possession of a gun license that he obtained in New Zealand in November, 2017.

Your playlist will load after this ad

It comes in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern said as the alleged perpetrator was in possession of weapons and held a gun licence, "I can tell you one thing right now, our gun laws will change". 

When asked how the perpetrator obtained a licence for a semi-automatic weapon, Ms Ardern said she understood he held a category A gun licence.

"My advice currently is that under that gun licence he was able to legally acquire the guns that he held. That will give you an indication of why we need to change our gun laws."

Banning semi-automatic weapons was "certainly one of the issues I'm looking at with an immediate effect".

She asked for advice on these issues yesterday, and said they would be responding "swiftly".

There have already been attempts to change the gun laws. "Now is the time for change," Ms Ardern said. 

Read: 1 NEWS' live updates after 49 people were killed in a terrorist attack at two mosques in Christchurch yesterday.

She said the "mere fact that this individual acquired a gun license and acquired weapons of that range, obviously people will be seeking change and I'm committing to that". 

Ms Ardern said over 40 people were being treated in Christchurch Hospital, two are in critical condition and also a five-year-old child has been transported to Starship Hospital in Auckland. 

She said three people had been arrested in relation to the event, one Australian citizen is to appear in court today, charged with murder. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

The 28-year-old Australian citizen, who resided in Dunedin, is due in court today charged with murder. Source: 1 NEWS

"This individual has travelled around the world, with sporadic periods of time present in New Zealand, they were not a resident of Christchurch, they were currently based in Dunedin."

She said inquiries were ongoing into the level of possible involvement of the other two who were arrested. Ms Ardern could not say if they were New Zealand citizens. 

The forth person who was arrested was a member of the public "who was in possession of a firearm but with the intention of assisting police, they have since been released". 

None of the people apprehended had criminal histories in New Zealand or Australia and were not on any watch-lists. 

"Our intelligence community and police are focused of extremism of every kind. Given global indicators of far-right extremism, our intelligence community has been stepping up their investigations in this area."

This morning Ms Ardern said she had always been concerned about the rhetoric around matters such as the UN Global Migration pact. 

"Rhetoric of racism, division, extremism has no place, not only in New Zealand, but I would say in a society as a whole."

"If there was any suggestion that these individuals should have been known to us, we are looking into that as we speak.

"Our duty was to keep everyone who was in New Zealand and calls New Zealand home, safe, that has not occurred here so questions must be answered."

Ms Ardern urged Christchurch residents to stay home and stay safe.