Friday, April 19, 2019

One mass shooting and New Zealand’s prime minister bans assault rifles

"We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place."

Image Credit: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Less than a week after a mass shooting killed 50 people and injured several others at two different mosques in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned all assault weapons. Her response to the white supremacist attacks in Christchurch was an effort to strengthen the country’s gun laws and make the country a safer place.

The new law will ban “all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines,” Common Dreams reported.

“On 15 March, our history changed forever,” Ardern said at a press conference. “Now, our laws will, too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

The new laws will go into effect in three weeks, while interim measures will be put in place immediately to “stop a flood of assault rifle purchases in the meantime,” Common Dreams reported.

“Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch,” Ardern said at a press conference. “Now… we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles in New Zealand. Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country.”

While the gun law reforms were supported by New Zealand’s opposition party, the National Party, many progressive politicians in the United States praised the prime minister’s action to stop gun violence.

“This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a tweet. “We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA, and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.”

Ardern is asking the rest of the world to follow her lead in gun law reforms and address white nationalism, which was said to be the motive behind last week’s terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“If we want to make sure globally that we are a safe and tolerant and inclusive world, we cannot think about this in terms of boundaries,” she said.

Ardern also announced a buyback program for all assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons offering “fair and reasonable compensation” for legally purchased weapons to remove them from the public.

“What we’ve done here is taken out the guns out of circulation that are most critical to be addressed urgently and that’s what we’ve announced, with essentially almost immediate effect,” Ardern said.

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