New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was won international praise for her compassionate, bold words and actions in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings that has claimed the lives of 50 Muslim worshippers.
First up: New Zealand’s gun laws, already fairly strict by U.S. standards, are being tightened. “Our gun laws will change,” Arden vowed. On Sunday, she announced that the cabinet was unified “in principle” on new gun laws and was ironing out the details of implementation. Winston Peters, the head of the more conservative New Zealand First party stood next to Arden, who hails from the more progressive Labour Party, in a show of unity.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her cabinet has agreed “in principle” on proposals to change the country’s gun laws, in response to the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday: https://t.co/zfHGYIXtoU pic.twitter.com/nTGxAJL54g
— CNN International (@cnni) March 18, 2019
The exact details of these new laws remain to be seen, but Arden was floating a ban on the sort of semiautomatic weapons used by the shooter within 24 hours of the attack.
The nation already requires a rigorous background check and safety training to qualify for a gun license — a process that usually takes several months — and requires citizens to renew their gun licenses every 10 years. These laws are probably at least part of the reason for New Zealand’s very low rate of gun violence — prior to last Friday’s shootings, the nation had never had a mass shooting.
However, gun control advocates in New Zealand say there are “gaps” — and the shooter was able to exploit these gaps to carry out his attack. Police in New Zealand say current laws are “patchy” — particularly when it comes to registering specific firearms and the regulation of semiautomatic weapons.