New Zealand's gun laws currently operate on a "licensing but no registration" system, meaning that a majority of firearms in the country do not need to be registered, the Australian Financial Review reported. The system does include background and reference checks, along with safety training and a written test, the newspaper reported.
A person must be at least 16 to own a gun, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Carrying a gun is only allowed for people who have a "lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose," such as hunting, pest control or sports shooting, the newspaper reported. Self-defense is not considered a reason to own a gun, the Morning Herald reported.
New Zealand police officers are not normally armed, CNN reported. However, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the New Zealand Police Association, 66 percent of its members favored arming officers, TVNZ reported.
The largest mass killing in New Zealand before Friday's shootings in Christchurch came when 49 people were killed in 1943 at a camp for Japanese prisoners of war, the New Zealand Herald reported. On Feb. 25, 1943, guards at a Featherston camp shot and killed 48 prisoners; one guard also was killed during the riot, the newspaper reported.