New Zealand enacts sweeping gun control after Christchurch attack

New Zealand enacts sweeping gun control after Christchurch attack

By Luke Vargas   
Courtesy: New Zealand Police
Courtesy: New Zealand Police

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled a ban on assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons and large magazines on Thursday.

UNITED NATIONS – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled sweeping gun control measures on Thursday, banning assault rifles, semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines just days after a gunman killed 50 people at a pair of mosques in the city of Christchurch.

Ardern said she trusted lawful gun-owners and those who’d never touched a gun to see a common interest in banning the weapons used in that massacre.

“I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders – those who use guns for legitimate purposes and those who have never touched one – that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end, and today they will.”

Iain Overton directs the gun violence research group Action on Armed Violence and says in most countries, Ardern’s argument tends to hold sway.

“The U.S. is the only country in the world where following a mass shooting there has been a liberalization of gun laws as opposed to a tightening of gun laws.”

But Overton says the U.S. and New Zealand have more in common than you might think, from large populations of early settlers fleeing draconian European rulers who consequently placed a high value on individual liberty to important rural traditions that long involved using firearms for hunting or protection property.

And while New Zealand has pro-gun lobbies too, the country manufactures few of its own weapons and exports even fewer, giving those lobbies far less financial and political sway.

“That industrial nexus massively transforms the role of advocacy and lobby in America. So the voice of the gun lobby in New Zealand could have been pronounced during a time when there were no massacres and no mass shootings. The moment the public is made aware of how profoundly concerning the gun laws in New Zealand were in terms of allowing this person to get his hands on such weapons, then obviously the population turned on its heel and said, ‘no, we need gun reform.’”

Those reforms are coming fast. New Zealand’s national police force is already asking owners of the soon-to-be-prohibited firearms to sign up online to help schedule a time to sell them back.  


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