Christchurch New Zealand Shootings

Details on the Christchurch shootings and how the country is handling it

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Christchurch New Zealand Shootings

Officer on site of the shooting, photo courtesy of the BBC

Officer on site of the shooting, photo courtesy of the BBC

Officer on site of the shooting, photo courtesy of the BBC

Officer on site of the shooting, photo courtesy of the BBC

Blake Heller, Staff Reporter

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As of March 15th of 2019, around the center of the peaceful town of Christchurch New Zealand, a gunman entered the Al Noor mosque and began opening fire on the panicking churchgoers. He continued the attack walking back to his vehicle and driving over to the Linwood mosque where a civilian disarmed him and spooked him off. Not long after he was arrested by two officers who drove him off the road and arrested him within a short period of time. The vicious attack lasted an absolutely terrifying 36 minutes in which the gunman killed 50 and injured another 50 varying from men, women, and children. As the bodies returned to their families, a list revealed that the victims’ age ranged from three to 77 and included at least four women. 

People gathered lining the outside of the Al Noor mosque in tribute of the victims, photo by Fiona Goodall.

The gunman was 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, an Australian citizen who vividly expressed his white nationalist views across the internet, even releasing a 74-page manifesto describing his various beliefs. He was a clearly disturbed individual that used the internet to justify his views allowing them to fester and manifest into the shooting we saw. The main takeaways of the manifesto were that he is an eco-fascist white nationalist who believes that immigrants of color are there to take over white land.

The shooter is a very self-aware individual who shows an intimate knowledge of the current internet culture, even mentioning games like Fortnite in a sarcastic manner. It shows a different level of sophistication from the gunman unseen in more recent shootings.

The Saturday following the attack, the 28-year old handcuffed in a white prison jumpsuit entered the courtroom quietly. Facing one hefty charge of murder the suspect didn’t make a plea at all, only making a hand gesture often associated with white supremacy. It seems, based on his manifesto, that he has no intention of denying any of the charges against him and that he’s willing to take the full punishment given to him because he believes he’s in the right.

Christchurch shooting suspect standing in court awaiting trial. Photo courtesy of CNN.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, stated that the gunman had full intentions to continue his attacks if he hadn’t been arrested when he was. “There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack,” she said. The Prime Minister had followed suit with gun law reform following the shootings, saying the cabinet had mutually agreed “in principle” to do so. As of March 15, all military-style semi-automatic and automatic rifles, like the ones used by the Christchurch shooter, are now no longer available in New Zealand. It also includes all modifications and parts that allow someone to convert weapons into military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) weapons, including high-capacity magazines. 

Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned.”

— Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her rapid and empathetic response to the shooting, uplifting the communities affected by the shootings and united New Zealand as a whole. “New Zealand mourns with you. We are one,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. It’s been her central message since her first statement on the shooting saying, “Many of those affected may be migrants, may be refugees … They are us. … The perpetrator is not.”

The devastating attack has been the worst New Zealand ever faced, runner up being a prison riot back in 1943 where guards had opened fire on Japanese prisoners attempting to escape were 48 prisoners and one guard died. The difference between the two shooting was that New Zealand’s own citizens died in the masses while the prisoners back in 1943 had no intention of surviving unless they escaped.

The devastating loss of life that’s deeply affected the Muslim community across the world, striking fear into those who practice the religion and possibly inspiring those who agree with the gunman. Even with Jacinda Ardern’s wonderful support of the country as a whole, the shooting is still affecting people from different parts of the globe.