NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

*This* is what leadership looks like: New Zealand is banning military-grade guns

It’s truly refreshing to see a country’s leadership take swift and decisive action to improve gun safety laws in the aftermath of a horrific mass shooting.

New Zealand has banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday, just six days after attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left fifty people dead. A buyback program will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation, and those who do not comply will be subject to fines, she said.

“On 15 March [2019], our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” Ardern said. [Watch the press conference.] “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

The gunman who attacked the Al Noor and Linwood mosques here Friday used AR-15 rifles in the worst mass shooting New Zealand has ever seen. In addition to the fifty killed, forty people were injured.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s response to the atrocity in Christchurch will be held up for years as an example of what to do when tragedy strikes.

From asking the victims’ families how best to help them to grieving with them to taking swift measures to improve the safety of her people, Prime Minister Arden is showing the world what real and effective leadership is. Props to her government.

We frequently refer to heads of state in the world community as national leaders, but many of them don’t actually lead… they simply occupy positions of power.

Jacinda Ardern is different. New Zealand is extremely fortunate to have her as its current Prime Minister. She is unifying Kiwis around the universal progressive values of tolerance, inclusion, mutual responsibility, respect, and safety.

And her people are responding.

New Zealanders have begun handing in their firearms to police in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Christchurch which resulted in the deaths of at least fifty people.

New Zealand police said that, as of Tuesday night, at least 37 firearms had been handed in to police officers around the country.

“Until today I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semi-automatic rifle,” said John Hart, a farmer who was among those who gave up his weapon. “On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse. We don’t need these in our country.”

Bless you, John Hart. May your words and deeds inspire others to realize that we are safer by putting our trust in each other instead of a regime that permits bad actors to buy weapons of war which they can use for mass slaughter.

New Zealand is choosing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness over access to weapons of war. We hope that the day will soon come when the Congress of the United States of America makes that same choice. Until then, we’ll continue laying the groundwork for a country that insists on safe, responsible gun ownership.

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