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New Zealand has announced it will change its gun laws in the wake of the massacre against attendees of two mosques.

As an Australian, I’m surprised that New Zealand didn’t change its laws after the Port Arthur massacre here, as Australia is a neighbouring, and very similar, country.

To what extent did the Port Arthur massacre, and Australia’s gun law changes, influence the debate around gun laws in New Zealand?

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It triggered Sir Thomas Murray Thorp being given the task of reviewing the situation. His review was published in 1997 as the Thorp Report.

No actual changes in the law happened as a result of the Thorp Report, though. The next change to NZ law happened in 2012.

Only slightly presciently, in reviewing the inaction that immediately followed the Thorp Report, sociologist Greg Newbold predicted in 1998 that it would take either enacting the recommendations of the report or "a series of mass killings" to reignite public debate on NZ gun law.

That was not quite the case. In April 2017, a case the year before involving the discovery of a cache of illegal military-style firearms contributed to a parliamentary committee reviewing the subject, and recommending that some parts of the Thorp Report proposals actually be enacted.

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