New Zealand Bans Assault Rifles After Tragedy

Sara Sanguinetti, Staff Writer

Hours after a gunman shot and killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand’s prime minister promised to tighten gun control and possibly ban semi-automatic weapons. It has only been a week and the country is already in the process of reforming their gun laws.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden announced she would push for gun control the day of the massacre that took many lives. “While work is being done as to the chain of events that lead both the holding of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change,” she said March 16th.

Jacinda Ardern promises to tighten gun control.

The changes Arden has promised have been detailed clearly. All military-style semi-automatic and automatic rifles will be banned, and New Zealand will also set up a buyback scheme to confiscate those weapons from people. Guns used for pest control and animal welfare will not be taken.

New Zealand had strong gun laws before, but many have pointed out they have some loopholes, especially when it comes to buying semi-automatic weapons. With this new plan going into effect, the country is following in the footsteps of Australia, whose change in gun laws after a mass shooting of their own has been linked to fewer gun-related deaths.

Many compare New Zealand’s swift reaction to gun violence to the United States. America has had several gun-related tragedies over the last few years, including Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, and the latest Parkland school shooting. However, motivation to tighten gun laws has met resistance.

Many question why the US hasn’t taken similar actions like New Zealand after attacks.

“The US isn’t New Zealand,” said gun rights activist and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch. “They do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self-defense, we do.”

Other prominent figures in politics are rallying to strengthen gun control. “We had an assault weapons ban once, and we should have it again. These weapons of war do not belong on our streets, in our schools, or at our houses of worship,” said Kamala Harris, California senator and 2020 presidential candidate.

While some states have taken measures to tighten gun control, others are more lax. Any notion to nationally change gun laws has met resistance in the legislature and courts. Whether the latest tragedy in New Zealand will make headway in US policy changes is unclear.