New Zealand mosque shootings: New Zealand's gun control laws, explained | Viral Buzz News
Connect with us

Viral News

New Zealand mosque shootings: New Zealand’s gun control laws, explained

Published

on

Early Friday morning, 49 people were killed in mass shootings at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the aftermath of this tragedy, there’s a renewed interest in how gun laws work in New Zealand.

And on Friday evening, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “our gun laws will change” — referencing, among other possibilities, “a semiautomatic gun ban.”

As it stands, New Zealanders do not have a legal or constitutional right to own guns, and the small island country has strong gun laws relative to the US (as is true for developed nations in general). But the laws have some gaps, particularly when it comes to the registration of firearms and the regulation of semiautomatic weapons. These gaps have led to contentious debates in the country: Some gun owners don’t want tougher laws, while police have come to see the current legal framework as “patchy,” as reported by Stuff, a media company in New Zealand.

New Zealand has more than 1.2 million civilian-owned firearms — about one gun for every four people, according to Small Arms Survey, which provides estimates for gun ownership around the world. That puts the country in the top 20 nations in the world for civilian gun ownership (though still far behind the US, which has more than one gun for every person).

Still, New Zealand generally has very low levels of gun violence — likely due, in part, to its restrictions on firearms. But because of the remaining gaps and Friday’s terrorist attacks, there are already calls, including from the prime minister, to strengthen the country’s laws.

How New Zealand’s gun laws currently work

As the US’s Law Library of Congress explained, New Zealand’s system mainly focuses on licensing, but registration of firearms is not always required.

In New Zealand, people first have to obtain a license to legally purchase, own, and possess a gun. A license applicant is vetted to check for a criminal record, a history of violence, drug and alcohol use, and relationships with potentially dangerous people, among other factors. The applicant also must go through a firearms safety course. That all typically takes months to get through.

Once a person makes it through the process, he’s allowed to purchase guns and ammo — although some types of firearms, like handguns and certain semiautomatic rifles, require “endorsements” from police and separate permits to purchase. There are also extra storage and inspection requirements.

The licenses have to be renewed every 10 years, and police can revoke a person’s license if that person is believed to no longer be fit for ownership and may pose a threat.

Gun sellers are also licensed and regulated by police.

Unlike other licensing systems (such as Massachusetts’s), firearms in New Zealand don’t always have to be registered. This can lead to bizarre circumstances in which a gun only has to be slightly modified to no longer require registration.

Under the law, for instance, some semiautomatic rifles — commonly known as assault weapons — have to be registered as military-style semiautomatic rifles (MSSAs). But as Thomas Manch explained at Stuff, what is required to be registered and what isn’t can often come down to weird technicalities: Just inserting a lower-capacity magazine into an AR-15, an assault rifle, can make the weapon not required to be registered.

It’s also possible to import certain parts meant for MSSAs but for non-MSSA weapons, essentially letting a person modify a non-MSSA gun to become more dangerous, like an MSSA, without having to go through the legal hurdles tied to an MSSA.

Police have long worried that the gaps and loopholes make it easier for the wrong people to obtain and keep firearms. It’s unclear if that’s what happened with the Christchurch shooter, although he did get his guns legally, according to the prime minister.

Despite the concerns, New Zealand’s gun laws haven’t gone through significant changes since a mass shooting led to reforms in 1992. Amendments passed in 2012 did clarify some of the rules around registered assault weapons, but the changes were largely technical and minor.

It remains to be seen whether the push to strengthen the country’s gun laws following the March 15 attacks will be successful.

Gun control works, but it has limits

Stricter gun laws can’t stop all shootings. But the research shows that where there are stronger gun laws, and fewer guns, there are generally fewer gun deaths.

A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to guns can save lives. A review of the US evidence by RAND also linked some gun control measures, including background checks, to reduced injuries and deaths.

Laws that require a license to buy and own a gun seem to be particularly effective, based on US studies. In Connecticut, researchers looked at what happened after the state passed a permit-to-purchase law for handguns — finding a 40 percent drop in gun homicides and a 15 percent reduction in handgun suicides. In Missouri, researchers looked at the aftermath of the state repealing its handgun permit-to-purchase law — finding a 23 percent increase in firearm homicides but no significant increase in non-firearm homicides, as well as 16 percent higher handgun suicide rates.

A recent study also found that weaker gun laws and higher levels of gun ownership were correlated with more mass shootings at the state level.

There’s a bit of common sense to this: Every country has bigots, extremists, and criminals, but looser gun laws, like the US’s, make it significantly easier to actually obtain firearms and use them for awful things. To this end, previous empirical analyses have concluded that the US doesn’t have more crime, generally, than other developed nations, but it does have more lethal crime, like murder — in large part thanks to easy access to firearms.

New Zealand, for its part, generally has few gun homicides. According to GunPolicy.org, the entire country had just eight gun homicides in all of 2015 — a rate of 0.18 firearm homicides per 100,000 people. In comparison, the US, which has the loosest gun laws among wealthy nations and far more gun deaths as a result, had nearly 13,000 gun homicides that year — a rate of 4.04 per 100,000.

The mosque shootings on March 15 effectively add up to six years’ worth of gun homicides in New Zealand — a testament to how awful the attacks were, but also to how rare such events are in the country.

Continue Reading

Viral News

Look at How Much “Game of Thrones” Characters Have Changed Over 8 Seasons

Published

on

By

During the summer of 2019, the final season of Game of Thrones aired. The show had gone on for almost 10 years which is a long time not only for the characters but also for the actors who portrayed them.

Bright Side is remembering what characters looked like in the very first episodes of the groundbreaking series and is comparing them to what they look like in the final season of the show.

1. Cersei Lannister

2. Jon Snow

3. Tyrion Lannister

4. Daenerys Targaryen

5. Sansa Stark

6. Arya Stark

7. Jorah Mormont

8. Varys

9. Jaime Lannister

10. Sandor Clegane

11. Brienne of Tarth

12. Samwell Tarly

13. Davos Seaworth

14. Theon Greyjoy

15. Brandon Stark

Did you watch Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Tell us in the comment section below.

Continue Reading

Viral News

Baltimore’s ransomware attack, explained – Vox

Published

on

By

Thirteen bitcoins are standing between the city of Baltimore and many of the services and processes its citizens rely on after hackers seized thousands of government computers at the start of the month. The ordeal has been going on for two weeks, and there’s no clear end in sight.

Here’s what’s happening: On May 7, hackers digitally seized about 10,000 Baltimore government computers and demanded around $100,000 worth in bitcoins to free them back up. It’s a so-called “ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system until the owner of that system pays a ransom.

Baltimore, like several other cities that have been hit by such attacks over the past two years, is refusing to pay up. As a result, for two weeks, city employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. This is Baltimore’s second ransomware attack in about 15 months: Last year, a separate attack shut down the city’s 911 system for about a day. Baltimore has come under scrutiny for its handling of both attacks.

The ransomware attacks in Baltimore and other local governments across the US demonstrate that as ransomware attacks spread, and as common targets such as hospitals and schools beef up their online systems’ security, there are still plenty targets vulnerable to this kind of hack. It also exemplifies the conundrum that ransomware victims face: pay up and get your access back, or refuse — potentially costing much more in the long run.

What’s going on in Baltimore, briefly explained

Hackers targeted the city of Baltimore on May 7 using a ransomware called RobbinHood, which, as NPR explains, makes it impossible to access a server without a digital key that only the hackers have.

The Baltimore hackers’ ransom note, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, demanded payment of three bitcoins per system to be unlocked, which amounts to 13 bitcoins to unlock all the seized systems. The note threatened to increase the ransom if it wasn’t paid in four days, and said the information would be lost forever if it wasn’t paid in 10 days. Both deadlines have now passed.

“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the note said.

The city government is refusing to pay, meaning that the government email systems and payment platforms the attack took down remain offline. The attack has also harmed Baltimore’s property market, because officials weren’t able to access systems needed to complete real estate sales. (The city said transactions resumed on Monday.)

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who’s officially been in his office less than a month, said in a statement on Friday that city officials are “well into the restorative process” and have “engaged leading industry cybersecurity experts who are on-site 24-7 working with us.” The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

“Some of the restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions, we are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said. He did not offer a timeline for when all systems will come back online.

The Baltimore City Council president also plans to form a special committee to investigate this latest attack and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

A similar attack using RobbinHood hit government computers in Greenville, North Carolina, in April. A spokesperson for Greenville told the Wall Street Journal that the city never wound up paying, and that while its systems aren’t entirely restored, “all of our major technology needs are now being met.”

More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by cyberattacks this year alone. And such attacks can be expensive, perhaps especially if targets say they won’t pay. In 2018, hackers demanded that Atlanta pay about $50,000 in bitcoins as part of a ransomware attack. The city refused, and according to a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, the attack wound up costing the city $17 million to fix.

Ransomware attacks aren’t new — but we’re still figuring out how to deal with them

In 2017, a ransomware called WannaCry targeted tens of thousands of computers using Microsoft Windows operating systems in more than 100 countries. Officials in the US and the United Kingdom eventually blamed North Korea for the attack. Also in 2017, corporations in the UK, France, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine experienced ransomware attacks. US hospitals were also targeted.

Here’s how Timothy Lee explained for Vox what was going on and how ransomware had become more prolific:

The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files. If you have important files on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot to avoid losing them.

Ransomware schemes have become a lot more effective since the invention of Bitcoin in 2009. Conventional payment networks like Visa and Mastercard make it difficult to accept payments without revealing your identity. Bitcoin makes that a lot easier. So the past four years have seen a surge in ransomware schemes striking unsuspecting PC users.

Some ransomware schemes are so sophisticated that they even invest in customer service, helping victims who want to pay their ransoms navigate the complexities of obtaining bitcoins and making bitcoin payments.

Since then, a number of sectors and organizations have made improvements to their security practices to protect against ransomware. But the latest Baltimore attack exemplifies what a whack-a-mole game this is: One area improves its practices and hackers just go looking for another.


Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.

Continue Reading

Viral News

Cameron Russell for ELLE

Published

on

By



A film by Kai Z Feng of our February 2014 cover.

View at DailyMotion

Continue Reading

Trending

Viral Buzz News
%d bloggers like this: