“I can understand why people would want more restrictions,” he said.
He added that he’d be willing to consider changes. “There are always improvements that could be made to the law,” Mr. Healey said. “There probably are loopholes.”
One of the main ones, experts say, involves how easy it is to turn a legal semiautomatic weapon into a illegal killing machine with magazines of ammunition that go beyond what is allowed.
Under New Zealand law, the most common A license allows for the purchase of a semiautomatic rifle with a magazine containing seven bullets. An E license is needed for semiautomatics with larger magazines, and it can only be obtained through a more elaborate process of interviews and references.
But there are no restrictions on the purchase of magazines.
“Anybody can buy them without a license,” Mr. Healey said. “I thought for a long time you shouldn’t be able to do that.”
Ross Mason, the chairman of the National Rifle Association New Zealand, which is not connected to the American N.R.A., also said the purchase of magazines raised issues.
But he cautioned against a wider ban on semiautomatic rifles in general.
“The reason they became available here is because we were trying to eliminate deer from our forest and bush and other four-legged pests, so there was a lot of shooting of these animals from helicopters,” Mr. Mason said. “You needed to have something to fire shots very quickly.”
Prime Minister Ardern seems to be listening, at least for now, to all sides in the debate.
She also seems determined to do what the United States Congress has not, which is to act.
“Our gun laws will change — now is the time,” Ms. Ardern said Saturday. “People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”