Two people are fighting for their lives after a shooting outside a Melbourne nightclub, police said Sunday, amid a spate of gun violence in Australia's second-largest city. Police said four men were taken to hospital -- two in a critical condition -- after "multiple people were shot" outside the venue in the trendy inner-city suburb of Prahran early Sunday morning. Three of the men were aged between 29 and 50, with the age of the fourth yet to be determined, police said. A police spokeswoman told AFP the shooting was not believed to be linked to terrorism.
Investigators were probing links to motorcycle gangs, The Age newspaper in Melbourne reported. Police were expected to provide updates later Sunday. The latest incident came after a spate of shootings in Melbourne in March that left five people dead in four separate incidents. Two of the incidents were believed to be gang-related.
Mass shootings are rare in Australia, which has strict firearms laws introduced in 1996 after 35 people were killed by a gunman in Port Arthur. A murder-suicide last year which left seven members of a family dead in Western Australia was the country's worst mass shooting since the Port Arthur attack.
Meanwhile, neighbouring New Zealand’s governor general formally signed into effect sweeping gun laws outlawing military style weapons, less than a month after a man used such guns to kill 50 people and wound dozens at two mosques in Christchurch. Governor General Patsy Reddy signed the bill as police said a gun buyback program will be announced to collect the now-banned weapons. The weapons will be illegal starting at midnight, but police said a brief amnesty program will be in effect until details of the buyback are announced.
"For people who find themselves now in possession of a prohibited firearm, we ask you to please notify us," Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Clement said.
"The collection of firearms will occur at a later stage. " He added that "for now, there is an amnesty in place and we ask people to please notify us," he added.
Anyone who retains such a weapon now faces a penalty of up to five years in prison. Exemptions allow heirloom weapons held by collectors or weapons used for professional pest control.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed by a final vote of 119 to 1 legislation banning the weapons after an accelerated process of debate and public submission. "The Government acted quickly to change New Zealand's firearms laws and Police is now responsible for implementing and enforcing these new laws," Clement said.
Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, was charged with 50 counts of murder and 39 counts of attempted murder. The royal commission set up to investigate issues surrounding the massacre is examining how he obtained a gun license in New Zealand and purchased weapons and ammunition.