New Zealand Bans Semi-Automatic Weapons after Mass Shooting

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On March 15, the country of New Zealand was shaken by mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques that killed 50 people. Responsibility for this massacre was taken by white supremacy groups and it is one of the worst hate crimes that our society has seen in this century. However, it was announced recently by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that the country would be working immediately to strengthen their gun laws by banning all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines.

At a press conference in Wellington, Ardern said that “On March 15 our history changed forever. 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.” she said.

The cabinet took immediate action and decided to overhaul the law just 72 hours after the Christchurch attacks. Ardern is hoping that the law would be in place by April 11th, saying that “This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency.”

There is believed to be an estimated 1.2 million guns circulating through the country, according to data from New Zealand Police. That means that there is one for every three people, which is a very high statistic.

 

What the gun reform proposal would entail:

The gun reform proposal itself would be introduced to Parliament in the first week of April. For it to be approved, lawmakers need to amend the existing legislation, The Arms Act 1983.

As a result of this change, many people who legally owned these firearms will no longer be able to have them on existing license conditions. Officials will be holding a buyback scheme, which will allow people to make gun drops at police stations so they can safely hand in guns. Action will also be taken to prevent people from trying to stockpile weapons before the new law is put in place, encouraging them to turn in their weapons.

A similar ban was implemented in Australia a few years back, having over 57,000 weapons handed in. Since then, mass shootings in Australia dropped to zero, gun suicides declined by 4.8% per year, and gun-related homicides declined by 5.5% per year. New Zealand hopes by implementing this law, they will have similar results, which I believe they will.

Looking towards the future of gun reform:

Looking towards the rest of the world after the quick progress made in New Zealand for gun control, I can only just say that we need to step it up. In the past few years, there has been an alarming number of mass shootings in the U.S., and the individuals responsible for these horrible crimes are able to get their hands on military-grade weapons. Yet, there has been no real immediate action to implement bans on semi-automatic guns. People have been continuing to fight to keep our country safe, but the current lawmakers seem to be slow on the uptake of the ban. Looking at all the mass shootings that have taken place, such as Parkland, Sandy Hook, Pulse, and San Bernardino, we as a country need to take a memo out of New Zealand’s book and implement a law soon to prevent any more tragedies from happening in the future.