How New Zealand’s political system restricted guns days after a mass shooting


A week after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 and two teachers, most Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the United States remain sharply divided on whether gun law reform fire is the solution to prevent similar incidents.

But when New Zealand experienced a rare mass shooting in 2019 that left 50 dead and many injured, such reform took just days. After meeting President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about her country’s successful efforts to ban most semi-automatic firearms, noting that their countries’ two political systems are “very different”.

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas sparked intense and widespread grief and anger, but the incident also inspired comparisons to other countries and how they respond to such events. In Remarks at the White House on the day of the shooting last week, for example, Biden said he was “struck” by the idea that “these types of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world.”

“They have mental health issues,” Biden said. “They have domestic conflicts in other countries. They have people who are lost. But those kinds of mass shootings never happen with the frequency that they happen in America.”

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, Ardern said that following the 2019 shootings at two mosques in New Zealand, the public “expected that if we knew what the problem was, we let’s do something about it.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday and then spoke to the media about her country’s successful efforts to ban most semi-automatic firearms after a mass shooting in 2019.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

“Now the context I have to give is that our political system is very different,” she said. “We had the option, with, in fact, the unanimous support of parliamentarians, to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. So we did that.”

It was the New Zealand public, however, who “created the expectations first and foremost”, added Ardern.

Although Ardern said support for the measure was unanimous, The New York Times and the New Zealand news site Stuff reported that a lawmaker voted against it. Newsweek contacted Ardern’s office for further clarification and comment.

Ardern announced a temporary weapons ban days after the deadly attack, and within weeks lawmakers had voted 119-1 to make it permanent, the Time reported.

While speaking before legislators on the legislation at that time, Ardern noted that there were very few occasions in his experience “where I have seen Parliament meet in this manner, and I cannot imagine any circumstances where it is more necessary than it is now.

During her speech, she paid tribute to the opposition which, according to her, was “only constructive” from the moment the question of semi-automatic weapons emerged.

Ardern noted that the shooter in the New Zealand shootings legally obtained the weapons used in the attacks and easily modified them to hold more than 60 bullets per magazine.

“I couldn’t imagine how weapons that could cause such widespread destruction and death could have been obtained legally in this country,” Ardern said.

New Zealand’s swift action on gun reform contrasts sharply with the United States, where the issue of gun violence has been sharply divided along partisan lines for years without federal legislative action. An Associated Press-NORC poll released May 27 showed that overall a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, support a nationwide ban on AR-15 rifle sales, as well as semi-firearm sales. -similar automatics. Among Democrats, 75% said they support the measure.

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