On Friday, March 15th, 50 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The country was left reeling in the wake of the hate-fueled attacks, and now, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is taking action to prevent another tragedy of this scale. CNN reports that today, March 21st, Ardern announced that military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines will be banned in New Zealand. Ardern noted that the country will also ban modifications that enable weapons to fire automatically or semi-automatically.
Less than three days after the shootings, CNN reported the New Zealand cabinet agreed to reform the country’s gun control laws. Today’s press conference comes just six days after the massacre, and Ardern said that she hopes to enact the law by April 11th. If this is the case, it will have taken the country less than a month after the shootings to pass comprehensive gun control laws.
According to The Guardian, there are currently between 1.2 million and 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, with 245,000 people licensed to carry them. However, The New York Times notes that only about 4% of the country’s weapons are registered. Until the new gun laws take effect, the government has changed the permit requirements to buy these weapons, making it so that would-be buyers can only get them with a specific and difficult-to-obtain license.
As The Guardian notes, people who already own now-banned weapons will be required to either surrender them to police, fill out a form to participate in a buy-back, or sell the weapons to someone with the necessary license to carry them.
New Zealand’s swift adoption of gun control reform after a major national tragedy stands in stark contrast to the United States. While it took six days to enact new policies after Christchurch, it’s been six years since Sandy Hook, and the U.S. is no closer to passing comprehensive and common sense gun control laws. We’re looking toward Ardern and the New Zealand government as an example of what our government could achieve, and hopefully, our own lawmakers will take note.