New Zealand Wastes No Time on Gun Control

PM Ardern will move Monday to tighten laws in wake of tragedy; little opposition expected
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2019 11:11 AM CDT
NZ Has Mass Shooting Friday; Moves on Gun Control Monday
Linwood mosque shooting survivor Elliot Dawson, right, and friend Shay Kenny hold a sign at a intersection near the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, March 17, 2019.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The New Zealand PM's promise of tightened gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings has been widely welcomed by a stunned population, reports the AP. Jacinda Ardern said her Cabinet will consider the changes on Monday. She has said options include a ban on private ownership of semi-automatic rifles that were used with devastating effect in Christchurch and a government-funded buyback of newly outlawed guns. While curtailing gun owners' rights is a political battleground in the United States, Christchurch gun owner Max Roberts, 22, predicted Ardern won't face serious opposition to her agenda. "There will be no opposition to it. There's no movement in New Zealand for that," said Roberts, a carpenter who uses guns for hunting. Elliot Dawson, who survived the shooting at the Linwood mosque, hopes New Zealand follows Australia's lead on gun control.

In Australia, a virtual ban on private ownership of semi-automatic rifles and a government-funded gun buyback cut the size of the country's civilian arsenal by almost a third. "I don't think they need such firearms like that," Dawson said. "New Zealand is not America." Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian charged in the Christchurch shootings, obtained a New Zealand gun license in November 2017 and started legally amassing an arsenal of five guns within a month. Ardern noted that attempts to reform had failed before under pressure from the gun lobby. "Now is the time for change," she said. New Zealand was the only one of nine jurisdictions at a 1996 meeting of Australian police ministers to reject an agreement that semi-automatic long arms would be banned except for use by licensed professionals. A Sydney University gun policy analyst if New Zealand "hadn't been the exception on that day and done what Australia did, this wouldn't have happened."

(Read more New Zealand mosque shootings stories.)

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