A Look at New Zealand Gun Law Reform

After the Christchurch mosque attack on Friday, March 15, 2019, New Zealand has already implemented radical measures to combat further incidents and the spread of Islamophobia in the country, which is located off the coast of Australia.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, promised the day after the shooting that gun laws in the country would change. In fact, on March 21 Ardern announced that all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles would be banned.

However, New Zealand didn't stop there. The country also banned the ownership of the suspect's manifesto, which the Prime Minister claims "promotes murder and terrorism," and having a copy can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Distributing the manifesto is a crime that can be punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Ardern urges citizens with copies to destroy them immediately or face the consequences.

Chief censor of New Zealand, David Shanks, said, “There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech’, which may be rejected by many right-thinking people but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism.”

New Zealand also proposed a bill to Parliament that would amend the Arms Act of 1993 with the purpose to “remove semi-automatic rifles from circulation and use by the general population in New Zealand by prohibiting semi-automatic firearms, magazines, and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited firearms.”

The bill was first introduced on April 1, 2019, and then finished its first hearing on April 4, 2019.  The swiftness of this bill may be because of the lack of opposition. New Zealanders also believe that gun ownership is a privilege, not a constitutionally given right that is inalienable.

The Christchurch mosque attack is the country’s most recent massacre since February 8, 1997, which killed six and wounded four others, whereas the recent Christchurch shooting killed 50 and injured 50 others.

While it is too soon to examine the long-term effects of this gun-reform, it raises the question of whether or not America should be taking a more proactive approach to gun control.

With the Christchurch shooting prompting what appears to be the fastest gun law reform in modern history, only taking six days for the announcement of the ban, it makes one wonder, when will American politicians stop with the “thoughts and prayers” and actually introduce and pass meaningful legislation?

“Thoughts and prayers” didn’t stop the 346 mass shootings that occurred in the United States in 2017, and did absolutely nothing to stop the 340 in the following year of 2018.

In a Gallup Poll from October 2018, 61 percent of Americans favored having stricter gun laws, with most Americans in agreement with what is known as “common sense gun laws,” like raising the age limit to purchase a firearm to 21, mandatory background checks and mental health measures.

Aside from the Trump Administration issuing a regulatory ban on bump-stock modifications following the Las Vegas shooting, it is obvious that there hasn’t been sweeping gun control legislation like there has been in New Zealand.