The US “Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern”

Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised around New Zealand for how she has handled the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terror attacks – with a lot of dignity, compassion and understanding.

At the vigil in Dunedin on Thursday night the large crowd was receptive to good speeches and a series of prayers from different religious leaders.

One of the most noticeable reactions was when Otago Muslim Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan mentioned Ardern – there was an immediate buzz that quickly swelled into a round of spontaneous applause.

Ardern has also had very positive coverage from around the world. For good reason.

She has featured in a NY Times editorial:  America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern

The murder of 50 Muslim worshipers in New Zealand, allegedly by a 28-year-old Australian white supremacist, will be long scrutinized for the way violent hatreds are spawned and staged on social media and the internet. But now the world should learn from the way Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has responded to the horror.

Almost immediately after last Friday’s killings, Ms. Ardern listened to her constituents’ outrage and declared that within days her government would introduce new controls on the military-style weapons that the Christchurch shooter and many of the mass killers in the United States have used on their rampages. And she delivered.

On Thursday, Ms. Ardern announced a ban on all military-style semiautomatic and automatic weapons, parts that can be used to turn other rifles into such weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. “It’s about all of us,” she said, “it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

Earlier in the week, she told Parliament that social media sites must address the ease with which the internet can be used to spew hate and images of violence. “We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published,” she said. “It cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

…the display of what one deranged man can do with weapons designed for combat seemed to persuade a majority of New Zealanders, and a strong majority in Parliament, of the need to ban rapid-firing weapons.

That attitude stood in stark contrast to the way the National Rifle Association and its political allies in the United States have resisted any restrictions on weapons like the AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in several mass killings.

I have seen this point made time and again on Twitter, often highlighting the contrast between the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’  repeated after each major mass shooting in the US, followed by the NRA runing a campaign against change, and nothing changing apart from the identity of the next mass murderer.

In New Zealand, it took one mass shooting to awaken the government. In the United States, even a string of mass killings — 26 dead in a school in Newtown, Conn.; 49 in a nightclub in Orlando; 58 at a concert in Las Vegas; 17 in a school in Parkland, Fla. — has not been enough. Nor has the fact that 73 percent of Americans say that more needs to be done to curb gun violence, according to recent polling.

The ban on terrorists’ weapon of choice was only one of the areas in which Ms. Ardern showed what leadership looks like in time of crisis. In lieu of trite messages, she donned a black head scarf and led a group of politicians to visit victims’ families; speaking without a script to a school some of the victims attended, she urged the pupils to “let New Zealand be a place where there is no tolerance for racism. Ever.”

She told grieving families, “We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage.”

In the same week Donald trump has had a running battle on Twitter with the husband of one of his advisers, and has lashed out yet again at John McCain, who is unable to respond from his grave.

After this and any such atrocity, the world’s leaders should unite in clearly condemning racism, sharing in the grief of the victims and stripping the haters of their weapons. Ms. Ardern has shown the way.

 

Ardern has been supported all the way by most of the rest of Parliament. Hopefully this cooperative approach to politics continues.

But she deserves a lot of credit herself – she has stepped up in a time of rel adversity and risk, and has got most of the country and much of the world applauding her with pride and admiration.

Also from NY Times: Why Jacinda Ardern Matters

New Zealand’s prime minister is emerging as the progressive antithesis to right-wing strongmen like Trump, Orban and Modi, whose careers thrive on illiberal, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Like any political leader she has a range of challenges ahead of her, but where it as really mattered she has been impressive.

 

‘Hate will be undone, and love will redeem us’

Al Noor Mosque Imam, Gamal Fouda, speaking at Hagley Park in Christchurch today.


Last Friday I stood in this mosque and saw hatred and rage in the eyes of the terrorist who killed 50 people, wounded 48 and broke the hearts of millions around the world. Today, from the same place I look out and I see the love and compassion in the eyes of thousands of fellow New Zealanders and human beings from across the globe who fill the hearts of millions.

The terrorist tried to tear the nation apart with evil ideology. Instead we have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable. And that the world can see injustice an example of love and unity.

We are brokenhearted but we are not broken.

We are determined to not let anyone divide us.

We are determined to love one another and to support each other. This evil ideology of white supremacy did not strike us first, yet it has struck us hardest. But the solidarity in New Zealand is extraordinary.

To the families of the victims, your loved ones did not die in vain. Their blood has watered the seeds of hope. The beauty of Islam and the beauty of our unity. They were the best of us, taken from us on the best of days, in the best of places, and performing the best of actions. They are not just martyrs of Islam, but they are martyrs of this nation, New Zealand.

Our loss of you is a gain to New Zealand’s unity. Your departure is an awakening not just for our nation, but for all humanity. Your martyrdom is a new life for New Zealand and a chance of prosperity for many. Our assembly here, with all the shades of our diversity, is a testament of our giant humanity.

We are here in our hundreds and thousands, unified for one purpose. That hate will be undone, and love will redeem us.

We are told by our prophet Mohammed that you can never truly show gratitude to almighty God if you are incapable of loving your fellow man. To the people of New Zealand, thank you for your peace. Thank you for your haka. Thank you for your flowers. Thank you for your love and compassion.

To our prime minister, thank you. Thank you for your leadership. It has been a lesson for the world’s leaders. Thank you for holding our families close, and honouring us with a simple scarf. Thank you for your words and deeds of compassion. Thank you for being one with us. Thank you to the New Zealand government and to all the wonderful people who have shown us that we matter, and are not forgotten.

Thank you to our police force and frontline services. You put our lives before your own, every day. Thank you to the neighbours, for opening your doors to save us from the killer. Thank you to those who pulled over their cars to help us. Thank you to those who brought us food and helped us when we found it difficult to stand. Thank you New Zealand for teaching the world what it means to love and care.

To my brothers and sisters, those who are here today to perform the weekly Friday prayer, thank you for coming together once again. It is easy to feel lost after the trauma you and I experienced. But the promise of Allah made to us is true.

Thank you for anger that is restrained and your mercy that is overflowing. Thank you for your steadfastness.

Islamophobia kills. Muslims have felt its pain for years around the world.

Islamophobia is real. It is a targeted campaign to dehumanise and irrationally fear Muslims. To fear what we wear. The choice of food we eat. To fear the way we pray and the way we practise our faith.

We call on governments around the world, including New Zealand’s and its neighbouring countries, to bring an end to hate speech and the politics of fear.

The martyrdom of 50 people and the injury of 42 did not come overnight, it was the result of the anti-Muslim rhetoric of some political leaders, media agencies and others. Last week’s events are proof and evidence to the entire world that terrorism has no colour, has no race and has no religion. The rise of white supremacy and right wing extremism is a great global threat to mankind and this must end now.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my Muslim and non-Muslim brothers and sisters for attending today. And I would like also to thank our international guests who have come to our support and aid in these difficult times.

Have mercy upon us all. Oh, Allah, grant the word peace, security and prosperity. Oh, Allah, protect New Zealand and protect New Zealanders.


That’s an abridged transcript from https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/22-03-2019/hate-will-be-undone-and-love-will-redeem-us-imam-fouda-a-week-on/

Chief Censor confirms video “is an illegal, harmful and reprehensible record created to promote a terrorist cause”

As far as I know two people have been arrested and charged with distributing the video of the Christchurch mosque terrorist killings. The Chief censor has stated:

Chief Censor David Shanks has officially classified the full 17 minute video of the fatal Christchurch shootings which occurred on Friday 15 March, as objectionable.

It is illegal for anyone in New Zealand to view, possess or distribute this material in any form, including via social media platforms.

“We’re aware that for a time after the attacks, this video was widely available on social media and many New Zealanders saw it, sometimes without meaning to”.

“Its important people are now clear they should not view, download or share the video”, says Mr Shanks.

And:

“Every New Zealander should now be clear that this clip is an illegal, harmful and reprehensible record created to promote a terrorist cause. If you have a record of it, you must delete it. If you see it, you should report it. Possessing or distributing it is illegal, and only supports a criminal agenda.”

Guidance from Chief Censor

Chief Censor David Shanks is providing more guidance regarding the 17 minute video of the fatal Christchurch shootings, which has been classified objectionable.

Some members of the public and the media are now seeking clarification on what that decision means for edited clips and still images taken from the video.

There are also concerns being raised around the potential for criminal charges against people who viewed or forwarded on the video during the period that it was widely available on various forums in the hours after the attack.

“While we do not have the numbers yet, it is clear that this video was ‘pushed’ to many innocent New Zealanders by various apps. We have had reports that it also ‘auto-played’ for some people who did not even know what it was,” says Mr Shanks.

“The video will also have been likely passed on by people in the immediate aftermath, before they had any opportunity to reflect on what it was and what impact it might have on people.”

It is now clearer as to what this video is, and its legal status has been determined. Mr Shanks says it is a record of a terrorist atrocity, specifically produced for the purpose of promoting a hateful terrorist agenda. It has almost certainly been harmful to many who have viewed it, and will likely continue to cause harm.

“Enforcement around objectionable material is a primary responsibility of the Department of Internal Affairs, and I have discussed with them the need for a balanced approach to enforcement in this case.”

“I don’t think New Zealanders innocently caught up in the social media storm following these horrific events need to be concerned. The enforcement focus will likely be on those actively and maliciously involved in spreading this material, and taking actions such as deliberately distorting it to avoid blocks and detection software,” says Mr Shanks.

“Every New Zealander should now be clear that this clip is an illegal, harmful and reprehensible record created to promote a terrorist cause. If you have a record of it, you must delete it. If you see it, you should report it. Possessing or distributing it is illegal, and only supports a criminal agenda.”

In terms of excerpts or stills taken from the video, Shanks noted that the classification of the complete video set did not automatically mean that any image or short extract from it was also objectionable.

“However it is very important for people to be aware that any edited clips, screenshots or still images taken from the full video, that depict scenes of violence, injury or death, or that promote terrorism, may well also be objectionable,” says Chief Censor David Shanks.

Shanks noted that given the horrific circumstances of this attack, and the clear deliberate strategy to use media to disseminate a terrorist message, news media and all New Zealanders needed to carefully consider the impact of sharing, broadcasting or publishing any part of this video.

“New Zealand’s news organisations have needed to make ethical judgements about what images they broadcast and print, and I think there is growing awareness about the potential impacts and harms of some of this material, and the need to balance this with the public’s right to information.”

In particular, I’m thinking here of survivors of the attack, victim’s families and friends, those in the Muslim community, those affected in Christchurch and others who have already been traumatised by the attacks last Friday,” says Mr Shanks.

“The bottom line is that even if something isn’t illegal, it may still cause harm to others and we all have a responsibility as citizens to consider that”, says Mr Shanks.

If you see footage of this nature online, report it immediately.

To report harmful content on Twitter, click here.

To report harmful content on Facebook, click here.

To report harmful content on Instagram, click here.

To report harmful content on YouTube, click here.

Any harmful content should also be reported to the Department of Internal Affairs, click here.

Golriz Ghahraman speech on the Christchurch terror attacks

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman gave a speech in Parliament yesterday on Christchurch Mosques Terror Attack—Condolence

The truth is, also, that we as politicians bear a little bit of the responsibility. There sit among us those who for years have fanned the flames of division, who have blamed migrants for the housing crisis. There sit among us those who have fanned the hysteria around the United Nations Global Compact for Migration.

Those words were written on the butt of his gun, the gun that killed little Mucad. We have pandered to gratuitous racism by shock jocks to raise our profile.

None of us are directly responsible for what happened on Friday, we are all horrified, but we are also on notice now: we have to change the way we do politics.

I think that all of us should take note of what she said, and I hope that our politicians will change how we do politics.

And that also applies to us, the people, in forums like this. We need to do better in how we discuss politics, and how we treat our politicians.

GOLRIZ GHAHRAMAN (Green): Assalam o alaikum. Our nation’s heart is broken and my heart is broken today. Five days on, as that wound is still so fresh, we find comfort in all the love—all the love—pouring across this beautiful country. I’ve felt the grief as a member of that affected community and as a Kiwi as we gathered at mosques, as we held each other at vigils, as we held our little ones a little tighter when we remembered that little three-year-old Mucad Ibrahim was one of the victims.

The city of Dunedin ran out of flowers on Saturday because they were all at the mosques. That is the New Zealand that welcomed my family and I here when we escaped oppression at the risk of torture. We had lived through a war, and I will never forget being that nine-year-old girl on the escalator at Auckland Airport with my frightened parents. We weren’t turned back. We were welcomed here. So I want to thank every single New Zealander—hundreds of thousands of people—who came out over the last three days, who stood on the right side of history for our values of inclusion and love. It matters to our communities, as we are frightened, and I will never forget that among the victims on Friday was a Syrian family—refugees like my family, who had escaped the harrowing war, the unthinkable. They found freedom here, but they died on Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We owe those victims the truth: this was terrorism. It was terrorism committed by a white supremacist. It was planned at length, and gone unchecked by authorities because white supremacy was not seen as a pressing threat, even as some in the Muslim community were.

Although this man happened to have not been born in New Zealand, we do need to acknowledge the truth that his ideology does exist in pockets here. Our ethnic communities, refugees, and tangata whenua have been telling us this for years; they’ve been reporting this for years. I know it as my daily truth as a politician.

I receive all the barrage of hate online. I receive the threats: the death threats, the rape threats, and the threats of gun violence, online. Every minority in New Zealand knows this as a little bit of our truth. So now we have to pause and listen.

We can’t pretend that this was an aberration from overseas; that would be irresponsible. The truth is that this happened here, and it began with hate speech allowed to grow online. History has taught us that hate speech is a slippery slope to atrocity, and New Zealand must address that now.

The truth is, also, that we as politicians bear a little bit of the responsibility. There sit among us those who for years have fanned the flames of division, who have blamed migrants for the housing crisis. There sit among us those who have fanned the hysteria around the United Nations Global Compact for Migration. Those words were written on the butt of his gun, the gun that killed little Mucad. We have pandered to gratuitous racism by shock jocks to raise our profile. None of us are directly responsible for what happened on Friday, we are all horrified, but we are also on notice now: we have to change the way we do politics.

Our most vulnerable communities are hurt and we are scared. White supremacists want us dead. Those incredible people who poured out into those vigils are watching; they will hold us to account. The world is watching. We have to get this right.

We have to demonstrate to the rest of the world that the values of love and peace and compassion will win over hate and division. We must be brave and have those important and difficult conversations that are long overdue in our country. We must shine a light on the pockets, those shadows of racism that do exist in our country.

We must weave that incredible outpouring of love for our Muslim communities that we’ve seen over the past few days; we have to weave that into an enduring fabric of our society. We owe that to the families who lost loved ones, we owe it to little Mucad.


NOTE:

Golriz has been a controversial MP. I have been critical of her at times, I think especially early in her first term she struggled to work out how to do things – as almost all new MPs do, but her struggles were more on show through social media than most.

But I think what she said here ins important and worth taking notice of.

I don’t want people dredging over what has happened. I want comments to focus on what Golriz says here.

I will have no tolerance for personal or political attacks or general criticisms, name calling, dissing, dragging up past stuff, diversions, religion bashing, sexism, racism, any other ism.

Comments that I deem inappropriate on this thread may be deleted in whole.

 

An attempt to excuse and defend the Christchurch terrorist

Tipene commented on “Attempts so far to mitigate the possibility of retaliation that are doomed to fail:”

* A feminist PM adopting a headscarf within the context of a religion that holds women to be second-class citizens, closely followed by an invitation this Friday for NZ women, descendants of the suffragettes no less, to do the same.

Petty outrage at the scarf wearing. It is common to dress as per what people think is appropriate for occasions. Ardern didn’t cover herself anywhere near completely.

Her gesture has been widely praised, and I know women who wouldn’t have done the same thing and won’t do it on Friday, which is their choice.

I think trying to shame Ardern for what she wore is as bad as trying to force someone to wear something they don’t want to wear, if that is what actually happens (from what I’ve seen Muslim women in New Zealand choose what they wear).

* The Speaker of the House inviting a prayer in Arabic in Parliament to Allah, which is the same speaker who eliminated a Christian prayer from Parliament.

Petty again. It was a one off, followed by the parliamentary prayer in Te Reo, and then repeated in English. The new standard prayer still mentions ‘Almighty God’ and INCLUDES ‘we pray for guidance’. I think it is appropriate not to be religion specific, given that many religions are followed freely in New Zealand, and many people (close to most) are not religious.

* Police arresting people for exercising their sovereign right to watch an online video.

There is no ‘sovereign right’ to watch whatever you like – and they didn’t just watch the video, they shared an offensive video illegally (allegedly). I think it’s fair to question the degree of the police response. See Philip Arps charged with sharing live stream of Christchurch mosque massacre – “two charges of distributing a livestream on March 16 of the murder of multiple victims at the Deans Ave mosque, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the publication is objectionable”.

“Police would like to remind people that it may be an offence to distribute or possess an objectionable publication under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993.”

I note you don’t condemn a horrible video, but claim some right to watch it. I think that is reprehensible given the content and the intent of the video.

* People being fired from their jobs for watching an online video, when there is no legal precedent in employment law for companies to do so.

I call bullshit on that. I’m sure people have been in trouble for watching illegal or inappropriate material at work, like porn.

If I did anything illegal at work, like watch an illegal video (and aa video that most people find highly objectionable), I would breach my terms of employment.

* NZ media organisations scrubbing their online content of any article deemed offensive to Islam.

I call bullshit on that.

Some content deemed inappropriate has been removed, which is not surprising given the circumstances, and should be generally applauded.

* Radio commentators apologizing and tugging their forelocks for writing a critique on Islamic practices in NZ as they apply to the use of ratepayer funded facilities.

A hundred people being shot and fifty people being murdered has prompted many people to reconsider past actions and attitudes. As they should have.

A small number of people instead choose to, in effect, support the killer and the killings, at least tacitly. As Tipene appears to me to be doing.

* Passing laws designed to significantly disarm a law abiding, gun owning population.

Bullshit again. It has long been widely agreed that our firearms are not fit for purpose. There has been no indication that laws will ‘significantly disarm’  anyone.

From what I have seen the Christchurch killer used illegal weapons. Most people will support making more difficult to posses illegal weapons (not Tipene apparently).

Banning military style semi automatic weapons will harm no one, and will reduce the chances that such weapons of cause major harm.

* Shutting down and suppressing free speech and open discourse on the events that have unfolded, and censoring discussion (including a variety of viewpoints) on same.

There are always limitations to ‘free speech’. Any publisher has the right to limit what there platform is used for.

Leading up to 2017, Canada adopted a number of the above measures, eventually adopting M103 in the Canadian House of Commons (look it up if interested).

I suspect that is where we are heading as well.

Not that it will make one blind bit of difference to the outcome, in my opinion.

You have made no attempt to condemn the killing of fifty people.

Instead, you have supported (with false and outlandish claims) what the killer did. You are in effect defending this act of terrorism, or at least defending things that made it possible.

I think this was a disgraceful defence of a horrible act from you Tipene. You appear to be supporting one of the most terrible things to happen in New Zealand, and appear to me to be willing more if not worse to happen as a result.

I have chosen to publish your comment in full to show how misguided, irresponsible and reprehensible it is.

The rise of the ‘alt-right’

I don’t think ‘alt-right’ is a good descriptive term, but it is what is being used to describe a growing problem around the world, with strands of it evident in New Zealand – most starkly with the Christchurch mosque terror attacks last Friday.

It is more of a form of political and social extremism, with large dollops of intolerance of cultural and religious differences, and it doesn’t just come from the far right of the political spectrum.

There are also issues of political and social extremism from the left, with large dollops of intolerance of different leanings or opinions. That’s largely a different story, but the two are connected.

David Fishers ‘Big Read’:  ‘Lone wolf’ killers the hardest terrorist to find – and our spies had yet to finish their plan to tackle far-right extremism

We were at the tail end of a Five Eyes shift towards the threat of far-right extremism.

In the US last year, 73 per cent of extremist-related killings were by domestic far-right extremists.

Hate crimes in Canada increased 47 per cent in 2017 – in May that year a young man with a handgun walked into a mosque and shot dead six worshippers, wounding 19 others.

In Australia, there has been a recorded surge in membership of far-right extremist groups.

The UK’s MI5 – the domestic intelligence agency – took over as the lead agency combating the rise in far-right extremism in October amid an increasing number of alleged plots.

A particular difficulty is not just identifying extremist groups, small bobbles in size and number in a vast ocean, but also evaluating actual risk as opposed to relatively harmless ranting.

…there is work to identify the people inside who actually want to do something.

Clive Williams, former Director of Security Intelligence for Australia’s Defence Intelligence Organisation, says the groups themselves don’t necessarily pose a threat.

Far-right extremists may present as “a small number of hate-filled people who weren’t going to do anything more than march”.

But as we have seen it only takes one to inflict a major amount of human damage.

Peeling back the onion, there will be those who go beyond marching and offer financial support to an organisation. Another layer in, you find those who talk of direct action and, further still, those few who will actually take action.

At the time Ball worked for the NZSIS, the criteria for focus was set by “intent over capability”.

He offers a scenario to explain. If someone posted a comment online saying: “I don’t like you and I’m going to get you,” it would signal intent.

Someone presenting in this way wouldn’t necessarily rise in an agency’s radar.

If the comment was accompanied by a photograph of the poster holding a weapon, it would show intent and capability then escalate in importance.

“There are going to be times when the intelligence information is just not available … (when) you’ve got an individual who’s not connected to anyone.

Intelligence agencies in other Western countries hit by “lone wolf” attacks have found, after months of investigation into incidents, terrorists have brushed up against or been in contact with others who held similar beliefs, or been identified as someone of concern to law enforcement.

It is those areas where intelligence operations hope their tripwires – if set in the right place – will sound an alarm.

In the case of the Christchurch attacker, he was apparently active in online forums. He bought at least four firearms and a lot of ammunition over the internet from Gun City and another from a Dunedin sporting goods shop.

There has to be some sort of warning system based on firearms and ammunition buying patterns.

A former NZ Army soldier, now a hunter, spoke of his frustration of reporting concerns about behaviour at the Bruce Rifle Club outside Dunedin, where the Christchurch attacker practised shooting.

Williams, now an associate professor at the Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force Academy, said similar concerns in other countries had prompted alerts.

“The problem with any loner attack is they have minimal contact with people. Then they flip and decide to do something.

“You must have had people he communicated with, if not physically then online.”

Ball: “The challenge is trying to put the dots together. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

It is a huge challenge identifying the right dots and putting them together. There will be times when this just won’t be successful – we have to accept that.

It was with the benefit of hindsight academics Sophia Moskalenko and Clark McCauley wrote a paper called “The psychology of a lone wolf”, having studied two dissimilar cases of attackers who planned then carried out solo attacks.

They found the factors which inspired “lone wolf” attacks were incredibly difficult for intelligence agencies to identify.

Their research found those attackers beliefs were grounded in not only identifying with a group of which they felt part, but also identifying an alternative party which they believed threatened their identity fellowship.

This described many people. It describes alt-right groups of white nationalists who rant about immigration.

The mystery, the researcher said, was what separated those who would take action from others who did nothing.

They found there was a common theme in the cases they studied. They found a specific incident or situation which turned what had been a political position into something which was very personal.

“In short, we suspect that lone-wolf terrorism requires the combination of strong capacity for sympathy with an experience that moves sympathy to personal moral obligation to act.”

The researchers don’t explain this as if it makes the action valid, simply describing the thought process in the killers’ heads.

The Christchurch shooter’s so-called “manifesto” identified a period of time where his political beliefs became personal. If that is genuine, he wrote of travelling in France during April 2017 and May 2017 as the time when he decided to carry out an attack.

The researchers Moskalenko and McCauley found the combination of “personality and personal experience” be extremely difficult for those trying to profile such attackers.

It was possible to discover those with extreme political leanings, they wrote. Understanding what was in their heads was a far more complicated task.

Especially in advance of them carrying out a dirty deed.

But once he made that decision, there were possible warning signs. Some of these can possibly be detected through better systems, like monitoring firearms buying patterns. More notice could also be taken of unusual behaviour online or in places like gun clubs.

But this poses big challenges, with a likelihood that efforts to prevent terrorist acts can never be completely successful. However it is important that as much as is possible and practical to do is done to keep us safe.

And I think that labels like ‘alt-right’ are not helpful, as they ostracise many who just have particular political views but are no threat, and if the focus is too tight it gives plenty of room for missing real threats.

Government planning firearm law changes, but important questions unanswered

It’s inevitable that New Zealand’s firearm laws are changed in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made it clear that the Government intends to make changes quickly, and will announce these within a week, but at this stage what is planned is vague.

There is certain to be changes to legal availability of semi-automatic weapons, and I think that most people accept this as necessary to some extent.

But there are fairly good reasons for retaining the ability to lawfully use semi-automatics for some purposes, especially semi-automatic .22 rimfire rifles for pest control (particularly possum control), and also semi-automatic shotguns for fowl control (like geese culling).

Ardern at her post-Cabinet media conference yesterday:

Cabinet today made in-principle decisions around the reform of our gun laws. I intend to give further detail of these decisions to the media and public before Cabinet meets again next Monday. This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.

In the intervening period, we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.

The clear lesson from history around the world is that to make our community safer, the time to act is now. I know that this might for a short period create a small degree of uncertainty amongst some gun owners, including those who possess guns for legitimate reasons, and I particularly acknowledge those in our rural communities. I want to assure you that the work that we are doing is not directed at you.

In fact, I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur. I, in fact, believe that they will be with us.

In the meantime, I want to remind people: you can surrender your gun to the police at any time. In fact I have seen reports that people are, in fact, already doing this.

I applaud that effort, and if you’re thinking about surrendering your weapon, I would encourage you to do so.

I have a semi-automatic .22 and have considered surrendering it, but at this stage have decided to wait. I actually need it over the next few weeks, as it is time to reduce my sheep flock before winter, and a rifle is the best way to start the process. For this I don’t operate it as a semi-automatic as I use low velocity cartridges that have insufficient power to reload – I have to manually clear the spent cartridge and manually reload.

Ardern revealed a little more at her media conference – Government has agreed to gun law changes, will tell public within week

Ardern made the quasi-announcement following an extended Cabinet meeting with ministers on Monday, which was widened to include Confidence and Supply partners the Green Party.

Ardern, who appeared alongside Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters, said there was no disagreement around the Cabinet table on the decision.

“Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms that I think will make New Zealanders safer,” Ardern said.

“In the intervening period we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.”

Ardern said she realised this period would create uncertainty for gun owners. She said the changes would not be aimed at responsible gun owners.

Peters, who has in the past opposed gun law reform, said that on Friday “our whole world changed. And some of our laws will as well”.

Ardern applauded those who had voluntarily surrendered their guns to police since the attack. She advised against prospective gun-owners making purchasing decisions in the coming days.

I presume that is aimed at people thinking of rushing in and purchasing a semi-automatic rifle to beat a ban (I think that is futile and silly), but more generally it is good advice.

I am likely to replace my rifle with a bolt action, but I don’t think now is a good time to rush into that. My rifle is stored safely and securely, ammunition is locked away separately, and only I know how to access it.

As for arguments for retaining some use of semi-automatics, some have been made here at Your NZ.

Andrew:

“Most hunters don’t use semi-automatics – they are a waste of time and bullets for most game shooting.”

This is true for large game. I have no issue all at all making all access to MSSA’s and semi-automatic “rifles” that can take an external magazine restricted. I would not include a .22 rimfire semi-automatic in this list though.

I would have an issue, however, if they banned semi-auto shotguns. Auto loading shotguns are by far the most commonly used shotgun for shooting water fowl. Every year we cull up to 1000 geese in and around the Waikato area. Being stuck with a side by side would make this next to impossible without large scale poisoning.

Ant Corke:

Semi automatic firearms are a tool that are currently used by pest controllers and DOC rangers to erradicate pests such as rabbits and wallabies that infest the central south island, feral pigs and goats that destroy important endangered species habitats throughout New Zealand. The goverment’s commitment for the Battle for the Birds and Preditor Free 2050 requires firearms that have sufficient firepower to ensure high productivity. A blanket ban would hamper this. There are laws, such as the E Category which could be widened to restrict easy access to these firearms without removing a very important conservation tool.

Careful thought is required in drafting new legislation not knee jerk reactions from the ill informed.

I think these are both valid points in the debate over restricting access to semi-automatic firearms, and i hope the Government carefully considers these – Ardern has given an indication that they are listening to legitimate firearms users.

There are legitimate uses for semi-automatics that could justify special licensing to allow their use. This could be similar to the current special licensing to possess and use poisons for pest control.

After carefully considering things I have decided that I have good reason to still to have a firearm. I can switch from semi-automatic to bolt action and may well do this. If special licensing is required for any semi-automatic then I am unlikely to bother with that.

I think that just about all responsible firearm owners and users accept and support the need for some restrictions and law changes.

We will have to wait and see what extent the changes end up requiring.

Prime Minister’s post-Cabinet statement on terror attacks

A statement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on progress on dealing with issues related to the Christchurch mosque massacres, including announcing an inquiry into the attacks, and plans for firearm law reform.


PM statement on Christchurch mosques terror attack

Before I begin I want to acknowledge again and use this opportunity to again highlight 1737 as the contact number that anyone can text or call if they are feeling distress, if they have any mental health concerns for themselves or a loved one.

We have had, I’m advised, over 500 calls or contacts to the 1737 number. It has ranged from people who simply feel distressed to those themselves — those who have been caught up in the terrorist attack on Friday. So it is a line that has specialist support available and I again encourage those who need it to utilise it.

Let me give you an overview to begin with of the coming days. Tomorrow, as the Leader of the House has advised, members of Parliament will gather in the House at 2pm to make statements of condolence for victims of the Christchurch mosques terror attack. The House will then adjourn for the day and will meet again on Wednesday at 2pm for members’ day.

On Wednesday, I will return to Christchurch. I will be meeting again with first responders, including St John’s ambulance and front-line support staff. I plan on meeting with family members, but I’m also very mindful that families are receiving their loved ones for burial and I certainly intend, and I ask others also, to be respectful of course at this hugely sensitive time.

Today Cabinet was expanded to include representatives from our confidence and supply support partner, the Green Party. It was an opportunity to discuss several key issues and pieces of work, and having all parties around the table has helped to expedite that process. I’ll run through now several preliminary decisions that have been made.

Firearms laws

Cabinet today made in-principle decisions around the reform of our gun laws. I intend to give further detail of these decisions to the media and public before Cabinet meets again next Monday. This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.

In the intervening period, we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.

As a 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.

The clear lesson from history around the world is that to make our community safer, the time to act is now. I know that this might for a short period create a small degree of uncertainty amongst some gun owners, including those who possess guns for legitimate reasons, and I particularly acknowledge those in our rural communities. I want to assure you that the work that we are doing is not directed at you.

In fact, I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur. I, in fact, believe that they will be with us.

In the meantime, I want to remind people: you can surrender your gun to the police at any time. In fact I have seen reports that people are, in fact, already doing this.

I applaud that effort, and if you’re thinking about surrendering your weapon, I would encourage you to do so.

Inquiry announced

Today it was also agreed that there will be an inquiry to look at the specific circumstances leading up to the Christchurch mosques terror attack on March 15. The purpose of this inquiry is to look at what all relevant agencies knew or could or should have known about the individual and his activities, including his access to weapons and whether they could have been in a position to prevent the attack.

It will look at whether there were any impediments to the sharing of information, such as legislative or intelligence sharing challenges. The key agencies we’ll be looking at include the New Zealand SIS, GCSB, Police, Customs, and Immigration I want to highlight again, though: this is an inquiry that these agencies absolutely support.

The inquiry will also look at the individual’s travel movements to and from New Zealand, and internationally; his activities in New Zealand; and his use of social media and his connection to others.

The terms of reference are currently being finalised, and decisions around who will lead the inquiry and what form it will take will also be made shortly. Our key considerations will be public confidence in the work, timeliness, and the management of classified information. We’re also mindful, of course, that criminal proceedings are under way.

Commemorations and future memorial date

The Government has also had preliminary discussions around ensuring New Zealanders have the ability to commemorate as one the lives lost at Deans Avenue and Linwood mosques. A number of vigils have already been held in local communities throughout New Zealand; I have no doubt that these will continue.

In fact, I encourage people to come together. While I will not be announcing the memorial date today, I can assure you that the Department of Internal Affairs will be working in conjunction with the Muslim community, iwi, local government, and the mayor of Christchurch, police, and other agencies.

I can confirm the memorial will not be held this week. We want to ensure that the priority for the coming days is the families’ opportunity to grieve together. I will, however, look to announce a date as soon as I am able.

ACC grants

As I said yesterday, the families of those who have lost a loved one can apply for a funeral grant of around $10,000, which is made available via ACC.

What I’ve made clear to agencies today is that further costs should be covered upfront for these families taking their loved ones overseas. Details around these provisions are currently being finalised by officials, but Victim Support will help manage this process with the victims’ families.

There will continue to be high police visibility and presence over coming weeks in Christchurch. I understand this may concern some people, but it is not about a specific threat.

As I’ve said before, this is about taking a precautionary approach and providing reassurance as investigations continue into the terrorist attack on Friday.

Simon Bridges and National on the Christchurch mosque massacres

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been the primary political focus in response to the Christchurch mosque massacres. She has done a very good job in many respects. She has been very good at communicating with the public generally in her media conferences, and she shows obvious empathy and rapport when dealing with those affected by the killings.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has been far less visible, understandably.

He and other politicians travelled with Ardern on a visit to Christchurch on Saturday, in a show of political solidarity.

There have been two official National party statements.

Friday:  Opposition Leader condemns Christchurch attack

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has condemned the Christchurch attacks and expresses condolences to the people of Canterbury.

“Details are still emerging but the attacks are shocking.

“We stand with and support the New Zealand Islamic community.  No one in this country should live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.

“My thoughts, and the thoughts of the National Party are with the victims of today’s attacks, along with their families and friends. My heart goes out to all of you.”

Saturday:  Opposition Leader visits Christchurch

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has today visited Christchurch alongside the Prime Minister and other Party Leaders and met with the Islamic community, some of the affected families and emergency responders.

“Now is not a time for politics. The National Party stands in solidarity with the Prime Minister and the Government in condemning the horrific and violent terrorist attack in Christchurch yesterday.

“My deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers go to all those directly affected by yesterday’s events, but also to the wider Canterbury community.

“This is not something that has happened to just the Islamic community, or just to Christchurch. It has happened to all New Zealanders.

“It is foreign to everything that makes us Kiwis, our beliefs, our values, our tolerance, how we live and get along with one another.

“We offer our support in any way we can. We are with you today and tomorrow.”

Monday: Simon Bridges on RNZ on firearm laws

Change is needed, I understand that.

I am open to any and all changes.

Be very clear, I am up for change.

The National Party will be constructive.

Do you want military style semi-automatic weapons available?

He kept responding in general terms, that he is up for any and all change.

There is a Prime Minister and a Government we are supporting on this.

He says he is now waiting until the Prime Minister comes back with proposals on law changes. It sounds like bridges may have some sort of understanding with Ardern about how to proceed on this.

He could be more definitive, but in general I think it’s fair enough to see what the Government proposes. Once that is announced, Bridges will need to be more clear.

 

 

How the Christchurch killer was apprehended

NZ Herald has what they say is exclusive information about how the person deemed responsible for the Christchurch mosque massacres was apprehended.

NZH: Christchurch mosque shootings: Police reveal how they caught the alleged gunman

The Herald has exclusive details about how the officers, after hearing there was an active shooter on the loose in the city, took to the streets to find him – and stop him.

The officers, who the Herald has agreed not to name, are both based in smaller towns out of Christchurch.

That town has been named in other media coverage.

Their boss rural response manager Senior Sergeant Pete Stills said the pair had travelled into Christchurch to attend a training session at Princess Margaret Hospital in Cashmere.

The training was held on a disused floor of the hospital and was around room clearance and dealing with offenders in armed incidents.

“They were actually training when the call came through that there was an active armed offender in Christchurch,” Stills told the Herald.

“They had their work vehicles there with them with firearms in them.

“They operationalised themselves and got into one car, they decided to skirt the city, they thought that’s what the offender would do – rather than drive through the CBD.

“They were driving on Brougham Street because they thought if he’d just been to Linwood [the second mosque attacked] that’s a route he might take.”

Moments later they spotted a suspicious car.

“They saw someone fitting the description of the offender coming towards them,” Stills said.

“The car was weaving in and out of lanes with its hazard lights on.

“They confirmed the rego, that it was the right car, and did a U-turn.”

Stills said the officers have more than 40 years of policing between them and had the experience to handle the situation.

“They were trying to catch up with him, they were discussing tactics – did they want to pursue him?”

Stills said the officers weighed up a pursuit, where the gunman could have got away and “unleashed” on more innocent members of the public.

They also had to consider whether pursuing him would cause a crash which could also be fatal and involve innocent road users.

“They decided to bring it to an end as quickly as possible and they decided to immobilise the car by ramming it,” Stills said.

They rammed the gunman’s car on the driver’s side and footage supplied to the Heraldshows the officers dragging him out of the passenger side.

Stills said one officer saw “high risk” items in the back of the car and ran back round to the police car to radio the information in and warn other police.

He believed those items would put his colleagues in danger and wanted to tell them to stay back.

While doing that he lost sight of the alleged gunman and was worried for his colleague so he abandoned the plan and went back to the passenger side.

“He yelled at members of the public to get back,” said Stills.

“The car posed a danger.”

Once the alleged gunman was contained both officers used the radio to alert other police to the situation.

While police chases are controversial I don’t think there will be much if any criticism of this one.

Stuff: Video captures act of bravery as police arrest Christchurch shooting suspect

NZ Herald:  Exclusive footage of mosque shooting arrest: Suspect dragged along sidewalk