If Australia gun laws had been adopted in NZ, mosque attacks would've been 'very, very different'

Australian security expert Dr John Coyne says if New Zealand had adopted gun changes that were implemented in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, the Christchurch terrorist attack "would have looked very, very different". 

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He discusses a potential ban on semi-automatic weapons, intelligence and extreme right-wing activity online. Source: Q+A

On TVNZ1's Q+A, Dr Coyne said changing gun laws makes a difference, as New Zealand looks to announce gun law reforms before next Monday. 

Australia made swift changes to its gun laws shortly after the 1996 massacre in Tasmania that saw 35 people killed. 

"This is not to say that it's anti-gun... assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons have been removed from private citizens who don't have a reason to hold them," Dr Coyne said. 

"Unfortunately, that has seen the demise of certain types of sporting activities and competitions. However, the community is safer, and we no longer, in this country, in Australia, have serial or spree killings involving weapons."

"I think that had the New Zealand Government adopted the gun laws that had been used in Australia since the dreadful Tasmanian attack at Port Arthur... I think that this attack would have looked very, very different."

Q+A host Corin Dann asked Dr Coyne if New Zealand and Australia intelligence agencies should have picked up the suspect before the attack. 

"Having worked with your agencies, both law enforcement and intelligence agencies... I can guarantee that law enforcement officials and intelligence officials worked hard – and they do so all the time – to prevent these types of attacks."

"What we have to do is ask ourselves – have we struck the right balance between freedom of speech and security? And on this occasion, it would've been better to see this sort of attack not occur."

When asked about a possible rise of extreme right-wing activity online, Dr Coyne said there was "real potential for the problem that has been around for a long time – white supremacy and right-wing extremism – to continue to become an issue for security agencies".

"The problem of today is that these small, hard-core number of right-wing extremists now have the benefits of social media... They're able to create their own echo chambers where they spread their own poisonous message to each other – and the whole time, egging each other on."