|New Zealand's prime minister.|
In a stunning display of what can happen when politicians are not bought and owned by the gun lobby, less than a week after it experienced a horrific mass shooting, New Zealand is moving to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons. Meanwhile, in the USA where mass shootings are all too prevalent, Congress continues to fail to pass common sense gun control legislation. While the Democrat controlled House of Representatives will try to change this sad reality, the political whores of the NRA and gun manufacturers in the Senate will likely kill any such legislation. Huffington Post looks at the quick and dramatic action underway in New Zealand. Here are article highlights (note the stiff fines and possible prison time for offenders):
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday that the country will ban military-style semiautomatic weapons in an announcement that comes just six days after shootings at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 people.
“Every semiautomatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern said at a news conference.
Ardern said Thursday that the shooter used two legally purchased semiautomatic rifles that were modified with high-capacity magazines, “turning them into military-style semiautomatic weapons.” A suspect in the massacre, a white supremacist extremist, has been arrested.
A day after the shootings, Ardern pledged to change New Zealand’s gun laws and said she would announce plans within 10 days.
The ban includes military-style assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and tools to modify firearms, and the arms “will be categorized as weapons with an E-class endorsement” until legislation formally passes, according to Ardern. Most people in New Zealand likely do not have a license for that class of firearm, meaning an owner of such weapons would be breaking the law with the new categorization. Once legislation on the ban passes, which is expected, possessing such firearms will result in a $4,000 fine or three years in prison.
The ban is also supported by the opposition party in New Zealand, according to its leader.
Parliament is hoping to create a buyback scheme in which gun owners will be compensated for returning their weapons. Ardern said weapon sales “should now cease” and expects stores to return their firearms stock to suppliers.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said Thursday that “owning a firearm is a privilege and not a right in New Zealand.” Nash also said the full ban will go into effect in three weeks and that anyone who applies to buy a gun during that period is wasting their time.
The prime minister said her Cabinet will meet Monday to consider more changes to gun laws, saying there are still loopholes.
How inspiring to see politicians who put the safety of the public first rather than lining their pockets with campaign donations from the gun lobby.