NATIONWIDE vigils have been held and tributes paid to the victims of the terrorist attack which left 50 people dead in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Gatherings were held across the UK and a minute’s silence was observed in the House of Commons.

The Muslim Council of Scotland organised a gathering at Buchanan Street steps, which was attended by hundreds of people.

The National:

Police Scotland issued a statement condemning the attack and said patrols would be stepped up around mosques – but assured the public there was “no intelligence to suggest there is any specific threat to Scotland”.

The attack unfolded on Friday with a gunman entering the Al Noor mosque in the centre of the South Island city, where he opened fire on worshippers attending morning prayers with a modified assault rifle.

READ MORE: New Zealand in shock following mass shootings in Christchurch

The shooter, identified as 28-year-old Australian, Brenton Tarrant, then drove around three kilometres to the Linwood Mosque, where the second attack took place.

Tarrant openly identified himself as he live-streamed the massacre using a head-mounted camera.

Police recovered several more weapons from a vehicle and disarmed explosive devices in a car belonging to a suspect. Two other people.

48 people were also wounded and 10 are said to be in a critical condition in hospital.

The National:

New Zealand’s Prime Minister called it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and pledged that the country’s gun laws would change. Currently, all gun owners must hold a licence, but most individual weapons do not have to be registered. New Zealand is one of few countries in the world where this is the case. Once a license is obtained, there is no limit to how many firearms an individual can own.

In June 2018, there were 246,952 active firearms licences including dealers and individual owners. In 2017, 43,509 people applied for firearms licences. 43,321 were granted.

In 1990, 13 people were killed in a mass shooting in the coastal town Aramoana, which prompted an amendment to New Zealand’s 1983 Arms Act where restrictions were placed on military-style semi-automatic weapon ownership.

READ MORE: Why we should respond to the Christchurch attack with compassion

The law was further amended in 2012 to clarify which weapons were restricted, but parliament stopped short of a total ban on both occasions. New Zealand has a strong gun lobby and hunting culture.

Last year, a freedom of information request found that 859 restricted-category firearms were seized by police between 2008 and 2017. During the same period, 12,688 firearms in total were seized.

Police figures showed that that in the ten years leading up to 2017-18, 28 homicides involved a firearm where the offender had a current firearms licence. 126 homicides involved an offender who had never held a licence.

The National:

New Zealand’s Attorney-General David Parker said the government would consider banning semi-automatic weapons, but that no final decision had been reached.

Adern suggested on Friday that she believed the cache of weapons in Tarrant’s vehicle indicated that “wanted to continue”. He was active for around 30 minutes before his arrest.

“The mere fact... that this individual had acquired a gun licence and acquired weapons of that range, then obviously I think people will be seeking change, and I’m committing to that,” she said.

In a press conference, Adern confirmed that Tarrant, who she did not directly identify, had had not come to the attention of the intelligence community nor the police for extremism. The Prime Minister then added that security services were increasing investigations into far-right extremists.

The suspect published a 74-page hate-filled racist doctrine before his assault. The New Zealand Herald reported that he sent the document to around 70 people, including to the Prime Minister’s email address, directly before the first shooting took place.

Tarrant appeared in court yesterday charged with murder.