Sweeping Gun Control Legislation Passes by a Landslide in New Zealand

Published on April 10, 2019 by Athena Pallas

New Zealand continues to follow through to make real, substantive changes in the wake of the mass shooting targeting Muslim people that left 50 people dead. Today the New Zealand Parliament passed sweeping gun control legislation outlawing most semi-automatic weapons, along with outlawing parts that could be used to build such a weapon. The legislation passed by a landslide, with 119 of 120 members of Parliament voting to approve it. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken a leadership role on the gun control issue ever since that mass shooting. Ardern announced a ban on all assault rifles and military-style assault weapons last month, just six days after the shooting, and indicated at the time that the measure would be backed up with legislation this month, which is exactly what happened today. While Ardern has been praised for her leadership, her empathy, and her taking action on gun control, she has given credit instead to the people of New Zealand, saying, according to The Hill, “I believe what I have done has not been about leadership. All I have done is simply echoed the humanity of New Zealanders.”

This rapid, substantive response by New Zealand is quite an achievement and stems from its government not only understanding the outrage engendered by this senseless act of violence, but feeling it themselves. As Ardern said in response to the legislation, according to The Hill, “I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could have been obtained legally in this country. We are ultimately here because 50 people died, and they do not have a voice.” The legislation is expected to be signed into law on Friday. New Zealanders already in possession of the now-banned weapons will have until the end of September to turn in those weapons under a buy-back program. According to The Hill:

Lawmakers in New Zealand on Wednesday approved sweeping gun restrictions banning most semiautomatic weapons, including the type of weapon used by a gunman in terror attacks last month at two mosques that left 50 people dead. Legislation banning those weapons was approved by 119 of Parliament’s 120 lawmakers and is expected to become law Friday after being signed by the country’s governor general, according to The Associated Press. The bill, which was introduced earlier this month, bans military-style semiautomatic weapons and parts that can be used to build weapons outlawed under the legislation. The gunman in last month’s attack used an AR-15. 

Contrast that response from New Zealand with our country, where after mass shootings, such as the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and the 2018 Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead, people rise up insisting on common sense gun control legislation, which multiple polls show is approved by a majority of the population, but that legislation ends up not happening for multiple reasons, include the influence of the NRA over Republican congresspeople. The fact of the matter is that New Zealand has managed to do more on gun control in a month than the U.S. has managed to do in decades.

Featured image by Governor-General of New Zealand – Appointment of the new Ministry via Wikimedia Commons.