The suspected killer in a mass shooting involving two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand reportedly hoped that his attack would “create conflict between the two ideologies within the United States on the ownership of firearms in order to further the social, cultural, political and racial divide,” according to The Sun, a British newspaper.
Identified as Brenton Tarrant, an Australia-born 28-year-old man who has only been in New Zealand a short time, the suspect has been charged with murder, according to various news agencies.
Another report from the Associated Press and the New Zealand Herald indicated that at the second of two mosques attacked by the suspect, a person attending Friday prayers returned fire with a rifle or shotgun. There are an estimated 1.5 million guns in New Zealand, although the country does not have a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in its constitution.
The Sun report said that Tarrant apparently hoped that “this conflict over the 2nd amendment and the attempted removal of firearms rights will ultimately result in a civil war that will eventually balkanize the US along political, cultural and, most importantly, racial lines.”
The suspect apparently has been planning the attack for a long time.
While there may not be open warfare over U.S. gun rights as a result of the New Zealand attack, some anti-gun politicians are already trying to make hay.
Freshman New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the firebrand Democrat-turned-media darling, was quick to sneer at the National Rifle Association in a Friday tweet. CFL’s Joe Newby weighs in with related coverage here.
Anti-gun Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut also weighed in, reportedly attempting to link President Donald Trump’s rhetoric to the shooting, according to Politico.
Gun rights have been under a barrage of attacks on Capitol Hill and in some state legislatures so far this year, but Second Amendment advocates have been fighting back. How this attack could affect the gun rights debate remains to be seen.
Adding to the outrage is the report that the alleged gunman live-streamed at least 17 minutes of the carnage on social media.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the mass shooting was a terrorist attack. The suspect reportedly detailed his thoughts in a 73-page manifesto.
The Daily Mail has published a timeline of the events as they unfolded. The first attack was at the Al Noor Mosque as prayers began. Reports say the death toll is at 49, and that 48 more people were injured.
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