A week after New Zealand witnessed its worst gun attack in history, the government has banned the distribution of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles to its citizens. The swift response is a slap in the face to the profit-oriented gun lobbyists in the U.S., whose personal gains have always taken the front seat in the face of multiple gun-related violence in the country.
More than often, terrorist attacks around the world are perpetrated by fringe extremist groups. The past couple of decades have witnessed a surge in such attacks that have single-handedly been carried out by radical Islamic groups. However, the world is slowly observing the rise in violent attacks orchestrated by another extremist group, white supremacists. On 15th March, 2019, a 28-year old Australian by the name of Brenton Harrison Tarrant opened fire in a mosque in central Christchurch, targeting migrant Muslims who have immigrated to the country. Minutes before the shooting, he emailed his 73-page manifesto to the Prime Minister of New Zealand – citing several anti-immigrant sentiments, hate speech against migrants, and for the removal of all non-European immigrants from Europe and Australasia who he claims are “invading his land”.
The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has called it the worst gun attack in New Zealand’s history. The incident has resulted in the death of at least 50 people, with a further 50 injured and receiving treatment in major hospitals. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said. The incident was almost unequivocally condemned around the world, as people in numerous countries showed their support and solidarity for the family of the victims. The incident also called for major reforms pertaining to gun ownership.
Within three days after the incident, New Zealand banned all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines. The country has an estimated 1.2 million guns in circulation – one for every three people. The country’s gun ownership policy is on par with the United States, with gun lobbyists influencing power at the highest levels of government. However, they didn’t put their own profitable agenda before the need of the hour, and supported the decision put forward by Ardern.
New Zealand also banned the owning and sharing of the terrorist attack video, which was live streamed on Facebook by Tarrant during his killing spree. The New Zealand officials have already arrested two people who have been found to have shared the video online, with prospects of facing lengthy jail time. The authorities have also asked Facebook for help in stopping the spread of the despicable video on its platform.
Both of these rigorous measures are a testament to the willingness of the New Zealanders to help mitigate any potential terrorist attacks in the future. In comparison, the U.S. has failed to come up with an affirmative solution to gun control issues, even when the country has witnessed a multitude of gun violence-related deaths over the past decade.