New Zealand’s PM has vowed to ban assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons just a week on from two tragic mosque terror attacks.
The decision comes after 50 people were murdered at two mosques in Christchurch one week ago, allegedly by self-proclaimed white supremacist – Brenton Tarrant – who is due to appear in court on April 5.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern revealed plans of the ban this week stating that assault rifles and “related parts used to convert these guns… along with all high-capacity magazines” will be prohibited in New Zealand – despite their powerful gun lobby.
She added the attacks showed the faults in New Zealand’s gun laws that changed their history “forever”.
However, this means the nation will now impose an amnesty, so weapon holders can hand them in, in return for money back.
This buy-back scheme could cost up to NZ$200m, but Ms Ardern said it was the price her country must “pay to ensure the safety of our communities”.
Guns used by the attacker – such as semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15 – will be covered by the ban, with the PM hoping people will see it is in the national interest to do so.
“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride,” she said.
The law is to be formally in place by April 11, but a temporary action has been implemented to ensure those going to buy weapons in question, are now unable to do so.
And people who are found to own such guns after April 11, will be issued with an increased jail term which is currently three years or a fine of up to $4000.
Among those supporting the PM’s firm decision is the Federated Farmers Rural Security whose members are largely owners of guns.
Spokesperson Miles Anderson, said in a statement: “This will not be popular among some of our members … but we believe this is the only practicable solution,”.
Optimistic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, also stood with the New Zealand PM and called for America to follow their stride.
In a tweet, he said: “This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like.”
But not everyone seems to be warming to the idea.
Replying to the Democratic Senator was Dana Loesch of the National Rifle Association (NRA), who cited the Second Amendment of the US constitution.
“The US isn’t NZ… While they do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self-defence, we do,” she tweeted.
Now, as New Zealand have made a poignant example, it would seem outrageous to see others not do the same – especially considering the speed with which they announced the ban.
Ms Ardern’s unwavering yet sensitive response is something all national leaders should take note of – with her ability to express candid consolations yet make extremely unwelcome decisions – she has proved to be a leader in accordance with the highest standards.