Christchurch terrorist attack: Ignore 'radical gun lobby' and swiftly change the law - Police Association

The Police Association is backing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's call for a change to the country's gun laws, and wants any debate about it to be "short and swift".

On Friday, 49 people were killed and dozens injured in two attacks at mosques in central Christchurch.

One of the shooters held a category A gun license and was in the possession of five weapons at the time of the shooting. A firearms expert told Newshub one of these was an AR-15 rifle, same as those used in mass shootings in the US and Australia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media on Saturday morning that "gun laws will change" following the massacre.

"There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change," she said.

She has the full backing of Police Association president Chris Cahill.

"Jacinda Ardern has said emphatically that New Zealand's gun laws will change, and that now is the time for that change," he said.

"I absolutely agree with her, and I believe many New Zealanders will be aghast that in our country someone can amass a cache of weapons like that discovered in this Christchurch tragedy.

"It is sickening that it has taken this horrific event to wake us up to our vulnerability."

He said the debate about access to certain firearms should be short and swift, but also considerate of the victims and their families.

"There is no place in the upcoming debate for the radical gun lobby which has made its presence felt in previous attempts to make our country safer," he said.

"That input undoubtedly contributed to the rejection of most of the select committee recommendations on tightening our gun laws. We have seen what happens in the United States when gun radicals are involved - nothing. That is not good enough for New Zealand."

He said it was ironic that the alleged gunman, Brenton Tarrant, would not have been able to buy the weapons used in the Christchurch shooting in Australia, where he is a citizen.

"New Zealanders and our politicians now need to step in behind Prime Minister Ardern as she takes decisive action on access to lethal weapons.  I can pledge that the association will do everything it can to assist her in cleaning up our gun laws."