Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern announced that 50 people were tragically killed during a mass shooting at the Christchurch mosque. All the victims’ bodies have been identified, and they will finally be released to their families. Arden asks the country to join in a “nationwide reflection” for the victims of the attack.
As an answer to this tragedy, New Zealand will begin banning all guns, rifles, and high capacity magazines among others. The ban on guns is an impressive part of New Zealand’s law and history. Arden declared, “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”
Arden announced that every semi-automatic weapon used during the attack will be banned and hopes that this legislation can immediately be drafted and introduced given the urgency of the situation. The fear behind the bill is real, as the New Zealand Police reports that there is an estimated number of 1.2 million guns circulating the country. The figure shows a ratio of 1 gun every 3 people.
The proposal to ban semi-automatic guns will be introduced to the Parliament on the first week of April. The project has to go through several steps, such as lawmakers voting to amend the existing Arms act of 1983.
The government will put in place amnesty to encourage people to hand in their firearms. A buyback plan is also being developed, to lessen and eventually eliminate the number of gun holders and prevent further terror attacks. Bush said, “I can’t emphasize enough that in the current environment it is important you do not take your now-unlawful firearm anywhere without notifying police.” He further stated, “It is vital that we manage the safe and organized transport of all firearms into police custody.”
The proposal will take in consideration members of the society who will fall under “narrow exemptions,” such as the police and defense forces. Moreover, a category for “legitimate business uses” may also be made. In creating the proposal, Arden considers that these exemptions are necessary and added, “Some guns serve legitimate purposes in our farming communities.” The government also plans on taking further action to prevent people from hoarding weapons before the change in the law and to encourage them to surrender their guns.
New Zealand isn’t alone in the banning of semi-automatic guns. Australia has already done the same. Following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, the Australian government initiated a gun-ban movement. This event served as an example for New Zealand legislators to follow, in its proposed gun reform proposal. Australia’s gun movement reported to be a success, and mass shootings vanished, gun suicides decreased by an average of 4.8% a year, and 5.5% for gun-related homicides.
The New Zealand government remains hopeful that after the proposal is in place, it’ll see a significant decline in gun-related activities.
Almost 70,000 New Zealanders signed the petition calling for the reform. These public sentiments paint a picture of the severity of the issue of gun possession. Crowds gathered outside the Parliament in Wellington to in support of the petition.
The Police Association of New Zealand welcomes the planned reform. It congratulated the government for showing the courage to take this decisive and monumental action of banning firearms. Chris Cahill, President of the New Zealand Police Association, said in a statement, “I hope that the moves immediately attract cross-party support because it is important for New Zealanders to know that their political leaders are all on board with this significant move.”
Lobby group Federated Farmers also gave a statement, supporting the gun reform proposal for a stricter gun law. Although the group acknowledges that not all of the members are supportive of its decision, the group still fights on. Miles Anderson, Feds Rural Security Spokesperson said, “This will not be popular among some of our members, but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution.”
Opposition groups also show its support, and opposition leader Simon Bridges said his National party supports the proposal and further stated, “We are trying to tread a responsible path. The wrong guns can’t be allowed to get into the wrong hands.” He further states, “[The] National has been clear since this devastating attack that we support changes to our regime and that we will work constructively with the government.”