And On The Sixth Day ….

Just six days after the horrific massacre of 50 men, women and children in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques the Prime Minister announced sweeping and immediate changes to gun laws

Assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics have been banned in New Zealand after Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, announced sweeping and immediate changes to gun laws following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

“I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders, those who use guns for legitimate purposes, and those who have never touched one, that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end. And today they will,” said Ardern.

Parts that are used to convert guns into military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs) have also being banned, along with high-capacity magazines and parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic or close-to-automatic gunfire.

“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” said Ardern.

The ban on the sale of the weapons came into effect at 3pm on Thursday – the time of the press conference announcing the ban – with the prime minister warning that “all sales should now cease” of the weapons.

Ardern also directed officials to develop a gun-buyback scheme for those who already own such weapons. She said “fair and reasonable compensation” would be paid. [..]

The measures were praised internationally, with Rebecca Peters, who helped lead the successful campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws in the 1990s, saying: “It’s been the fastest response ever by a government after a tragedy.” [..]

Ardern said the immediate changes were intended to take out of circulation the guns that were “most critical to be addressed urgently”.

“There are a range of other amendments that we believe do need to be made and that will be the second tranche of reforms, yet to come.”

Given the urgency of the legislation, Ardern said there would be a shortened select-committee process for the legislation and that she expected the amendments to the Arms Act to be passed within the next session of parliament on Monday.

From New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof:

That’s what effective leadership looks like. New Zealand’s cabinet has now agreed in principle to overhaul those laws, experts are reviewing ways to make the country safer from firearms and, Ardern promised, “within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms.”

Contrast that with the United States, where just since 1970, more Americans have died from guns (1.45 million, including murders, suicides and accidents) than died in all the wars in American history (1.4 million). More Americans die from guns every 10 weeks than died in the entire Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined, yet we still don’t have gun safety rules as rigorous as New Zealand’s even before the mosques were attacked.

The N.R.A. (not to be confused with the vast majority of gun owners) will turn to its old smoke-and-mirrors standby, arguing that the killer’s hate, not his guns and bullets, were the real problem.

But while it’s true that white supremacy is deadly and needs to be confronted — something our vote-obsessed president blindly ignores — without the weapons of mass murder, 50 New Zealand worshipers would still be alive; 17 Parkland, Fla., schoolchildren and staff members would still be alive; nine Charleston, S.C., churchgoers would still be alive; 11 Pittsburgh congregants would still be alive; 58 Las Vegas concertgoers would still be alive; 26 Newtown, Conn., first graders and adults would. …

Why can’t leaders in America learn from experience, the way leaders in other countries do? After a massacre in Australia in 1996, the government there took far-reaching action to tighten gun policy. In contrast, every day in America, another hundred people die from gun violence and 300 more are injured — and our president and Congress do nothing. [..]

It’s also true that there are no simple solutions. The U.S. now has more guns than people, so criminals have a steady supply — and so do ordinary Americans at a time when suicides are at a 30-year high.

But gun laws do make a difference. When Connecticut tightened licensing laws in 1995, firearm homicide rates dropped by 40 percent. And when Missouri eased gun laws in 2007, gun homicide rates surged by 25 percent.

Polls show some measures have broad backing. For starters, more than 90 percent even of gun owners support universal background checks to ensure that people are legally allowed to own a gun before they buy one.

Astonishingly, about 22 percent of guns in the U.S. are still acquired without a background check. In parts of the U.S., you need a more thorough background check to adopt a dog than to acquire a semiautomatic AR-15 weapon. [..]

Another basic step: Keep guns out of the hands of people shown to present a danger to themselves or others, such as when they are suicidal or threatening a domestic partner. Fourteen states have such “red flag” laws, and similar legislation is before Congress to achieve something similar at a national level.

We should likewise invest more in “smart guns” that can be fired only by an authorized person; it’s outrageous that my phone requires a pin or fingerprint but that an AR-15 doesn’t. That would help with the estimated 200,000 guns stolen each year. [..]

Slowly, the tide of public opinion is shifting. The N.R.A.’s extremism is turning some people off, and it seems on the defensive, so eventually we may follow New Zealand. But how many more people will die before the president and Congress act?