- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced a sweeping ban on all military-style automatic and assault rifles in the country, in the wake of the horrific Christchurch mosque shootings that left 50 dead.
- Arden won global praise for her swift actions to tighten New Zealand’s gun laws.
- But, not all New Zealanders are on board: close to 12,000 people have signed a petition against Arden’s reforms, arguing that they are “unjust to law-abiding New Zealand citizens.”
- The new legislation for tighter gun laws will be introduced in New Zealand’s Parliament next week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden acted fast in response to the horrific Christchurch mosque shootings that left 50 dead – announcing just days after the massacre an outright ban on all military-style semiautomatic and assault rifles.
“In short, every semiautomatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” Arden said during a press conference. “We will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semiautomatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semi-automatic weapon. We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semiautomatic, automatic, or close to automatic gunfire.”
Arden’s swift action in response to the deadly shooting won almost universal praise: she said her cabinet was “completely unified” in implementing tougher gun laws, and around 70,000 people in the country signed a petition last week pushing for gun control reform. In the US, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez applauded the prime minister for her actions, saying “this is what leadership looks like.”
Local groups representing New Zealand’s hunters and farmers also said in statements that they backed gun reform. There are currently around 1.2 to 1.5 million firearms in the country, according to the government.
But, as evident by a petition circulating around the island nation, not all Kiwis are quite on board. Close to 12,000 people who signed the petition, which was introduced on Monday, have come forward against Arden’s reforms. They say that the gun laws came about too quickly and are “unjust to law-abiding New Zealand citizens.”
“This man wrote in his manifesto that the purpose of using a firearm was to divide us. If we allow him to make changes in our ideology, in our behaviour, he’s won,” David Tipple, manging director of Gun City, where the Christchurch shooter purchased four weapons, told local media. “We are not a country of emotional responses – we are a country of laws.”
The petition, which Gun City is promoting on its website, calls for an in-depth consultation period to review the proposal, “to ensure effective firearms legislation reform that does not unduly punish law-abiding firearms owners while maintaining assurances of public safety.”
Others, like the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners and right-wing politician David Seymour, have come forward expressing concern over the speed of Arden’s proposal. Seymour’s ACT party published a statement arguing that the government has abandoned democratic process.
“By forcing gun law reforms through in three weeks, the Government will ensure there is no real opportunity for New Zealanders to have their voices heard on the proposals,” the statement said.
The new legislation for tighter gun laws will be introduced in Parliament next week, and Arden has said that she will skip the normal public consultation process to get it through quicker. Chris Cahill, the head of the NZ Police Association, told ABC News Victoria that trying to slow that process down is a standard tactic for the gun lobby. He said that a similar strategy was employed to fight gun reform in the aftermath of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Australia.
Those laws, which were ultimately passed, have been linked to fewer gun deaths in the country.
New Zealand’s gun lobby has knocked down every proposal to bolster the country’s gun laws over the last 25 years, Philip Alpers, who runs a global database on gun policy, told Radio New Zealand.
“The fight has only just begun,” Alpers said.
- Read more:
- New Zealand shooting survivor says he forgives the gunman, at emotional gathering where 20,000 people heard the names of the victims read aloud
- A New Zealand gun owner who went viral for turning in his semiautomatic rifle before the new ban was even announced explains why he did it
- New Zealand made it illegal for anyone to download or share the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto
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