New Zealand’s parliament has almost unanimously voted in favour of a gun reform law following the mass shooting on 15 March. This is happening 26 days after a terrorist attack took the lives of 50 Muslims at two mosques and injured many others in the city of Christchurch. The parliament has voted to ban military style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. According to the BBC, the 1983 gun laws will be reformed and parts used to assemble the now prohibited weapons will be banned. Those who break the laws can be jailed from 1 to 10 years. CNN has stated that once the country’s Governor-General grants the bill royal assent: it will officially be a law in just a few days.
In a statement released by The New York Times, MP David Seymour who opposed the vote said, “It is not an attempt to improve public safety, it is an exercise in political theater.” Although Seymour is not opposed to more restrictive gun laws, he believed that the Parliament has rushed the process before truly considering risks. In response to that, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated, “My question here is simple: you either believe that in New Zealand these weapons have a place or you do not. And if you do not, you should be able to agree that we can move swiftly. My view is that an argument about process is an argument to do nothing.” According to The New York Times, Federation of the Islamic Associations of New Zealand stated, “This is a law that should have been passed many years ago. Passing that law is part of justice for them.”
New Zealand has successfully made a huge step in making sure that another mass shooting does not happen again. Military style semi-automatic guns and weapons, which are designed to kill, were also used by the gunman at Christchurch and several other gunmen in the United States shootings. Banning these guns was more than necessary to prevent further mass shootings and violence that have been rampant in the US. However, more work will need to be done to ensure the implementation of the newly passed gun reform law and require registration of the firearms by the end of 2019. New Zealand’s quick action after a tragedy to introduce a more restrictive gun reform laws deserve applause.
According to the BBC, New Zealand currently allows anyone above the age of 16 to own military style semi-automatic weapons. Once the bill becomes a law, it will be illegal to own these weapons and all weapon owners must be registered or they would have to face a fine of $4,000 and jail time of up to 10 years. The New York Times released a survey, showing that not only the parliament members, but more than 60% of 13,000 New Zealanders, were in support of the ban introduced by PM Jacinda Ardern. There had been a mass shooting that killed 13 people in 1990 but since 1992, there haven’t been any major gun reform laws introduced in New Zealand. Several gun reform attempts had failed.
Several examples of mass shootings all around the world should be more than enough for nations to prohibit the use of semi-automatic weapons and reform gun laws. New Zealand’s swift action to make their community a safer place by removing dangerous weapons from the hands of citizens will hopefully empower other nations to reform their own gun laws as well.