New Zealand’s response to the mass shooting that claimed at least 50 lives is one that many Americans have petitioned, prayed and protested for. Within 72 hours following this tragedy, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that “[New Zealand’s] gun laws will change.” She confirmed that the gun reforms would be announced by March 25 — a mere ten days following the attack.
What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) March 15, 2019
On March 21, the Prime Minister declared that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, or in short, all weapons used in the “terrorist attack on Friday.” Her hope is for legislation to pass the new law by April 11. For more details regarding the items banned, watch this video.
This immediate call to action is unfamiliar to American citizens who have grown numb to the constant news stories covering gun-related incidents. After over 60 mass shootings in 2019 alone, many are awaiting a similar statement from President Donald Trump. Regardless of the marches and movements, the United States has failed to make the same strides New Zealand has already made within less than a month. There was no need for protests or riots; all it took was common sense for the Prime Minister to realize that there was only one solution: change.
However, we must consider the differences between New Zealand and the U.S.A. For starters, the United States was established by a constitution that included protection under the Second Amendment for all citizens who owned a gun. This allows for the argument that banning certain firearms is a violation against their granted rights. Furthermore, New Zealand is home to approximately 4.7 million people, which is almost equal to the population of South Carolina. Therefore, passing legislation that the majority agrees with is much easier in New Zealand compared to getting 323 million Americans to comply. Nonetheless, the lives of humans should be worth more than these technicalities.
As mentioned earlier, the fact that the Prime Minister referred to the shootings as a terrorist attack shows an incredibly distinct viewpoint from that of President Trump’s. In the President’s eyes, violence committed by white supremacists has no correlation to that of a terrorist’s. However, the Prime Minister recognizes that terrorism does not have a certain religion or background. She has made it clear that this was not just a shooting: it was an attack on the country as a whole. This ideology has resulted in her willingness to alter any pre-existing gun laws and to establish new ones.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern witnessed a calamity occur on her land and instantly ensured that it would never occur on New Zealand’s soil again. This is the leadership that is desired — no, vital — in the United States of America. If it only took New Zealand three days to realize that lax gun laws were an issue, it should not take the U.S. hundreds upon hundreds of tragedies to have the same awakening. President Trump, please take notes.