New Zealand changes gun laws after mass shooting–a stark contrast from America

Graphic by Maria Nevada

Grant Gaden

In the wake of the Christchurch mass shootings, New Zealand’s government has quickly acted to introduce a sweeping ban on a range of semi-automatic rifles and large ammunition magazines. While the U.S. has experienced numerous turning points like Christchurch, congress has done nothing in the face of higher and higher casualties.

Regardless what side of the aisle you fall on, it’s very clear the current state of gun control in America is out of control. In the first 311 days of 2018 there were exactly 307 mass shootings, according to USA Today.

The solution isn’t conservative lawmakers suggesting ideas like arming stressed teachers or even superintendents arming students with rocks to take on active shooters. It lies in this county’s leadership deciding enough is enough and banning civilian access to weapons of war.

Most people can agree some low caliber rifles and pistols can be useful tools for self-defense or hunting, but at a certain point guns are only used for one thing and that’s to kill humans. The fact we have access to the same weapons used by soldiers overseas is ridiculous. There’s almost no situation in modern life that requires you to be packing heat, this is real life—not a video game.

A little over 20 years ago after a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania Australia, the government introduced a similarly strict gun ban just weeks after. As of 2018, firearm homicides have dropped 42 percent, according to the University of Sydney and Macquarie University.

New Zealand was able to draft a comprehensive plan in under two weeks that covered many loopholes including the one that allowed the Christchurch shooter to purchase the gun he used legally. The plan even called for all current gun owners to participate in a buy-back program.

The lack of action by Congress is unsurprising once you realize there’s literally only six republicans in all of congress who do not receive donations from the NRA, according to CNN. In our current split party congress, bi-partisan push for sweeping gun control is unlikely, even though an executive order could easily enact the same change.

Honestly, it can feel like a losing battle. Our country’s leadership has remained unfazed through first-graders being gunned down in the Newtown shooting in 2012 to the videos of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting aftermath in 2018. For how drastic the problem has become, the answer has to be more than simply voting. The survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting did the most so far for public discourse on gun control and inspired young people to participate in policymaking.

To credit those students, they were able to keep the national discussion on gun control for longer than any other mass shooting in recent memory. Even more impressive, they started it mostly themselves.

Many of the students that took to the internet afterward were harassed and attacked by conservative pundits, as immature and childish for pleading to lawmakers to prevent other students from having to experience the same tragedy. What kind of country are we to force our own children to beg for their basic safety, so some grown adults can play G.I. Joe?