New Zealand Joins Australia in Banning Assault Weapons

By Mansour Alanazi
Staff Writer

Six days after the mass shooting on March 15 in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that all military-style semi-automatic weapons will be banned in the country. This order came directly after the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, which left 50 people dead and 50 injured.

Ardern said that this legislation would be in place by April 11 and expects all gun owners to turn in their weapons. A payback program is included for gun owners to receive compensation, which could range between $100 million to $2oo million, according to multiple sources.

This gun reform law from the New Zealand administration is similar to when the Australian government banned military-style semi-automatic weapons on April 28, 1996. The change in law came after another mass shooting, when a 28-year-old man shot and killed 35 people and injured 23 in Port Arthur, Tasmania, a popular tourist spot in the island state of Australia.

After the Australian government implemented the new gun law in their country, the number of mass shootings dropped to zero and gun suicide declined significantly.

The true effect of gun reform is clear: The new laws had helped to stop the violence and reduced the crime rate throughout the country.

The United States should be ashamed for its slow approach toward gun reform, compared to other countries.

Prime Minister Ardern announced the ban on semi-automatic weapons mere days after the massacre in New Zealand. As everyone can see, that decision wasn’t hard at all. It only took six days to reform this law.

The US Congress passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) on Sept. 13, 1994, and it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law expired on Sept. 13, 2004, and it has not been reinstated.

When Barack Obama was president (January 2009-January 2017), he tried to revive the AWB ban. He was derailed by a GOP-controlled Congress, which did not reinstate the ban.

The effort to ban assault weapons continued when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a new AWB bill on Jan, 24, 2013, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut. However, AWB again failed on a senate vote, 60-40.

Legislation to renew or replace the ban was proposed numerous times unsuccessfully. It is impossible to understand why America cannot step forward after so many mass shootings have taken place in the United States. Some might say it is the power of the National Rifle Association, which opposes the ban, and the Second Amendment, which states: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Why would banning assault weapons take decades to accomplish? Why would we keep weapons in the hand of criminals in our streets? Aren’t these tragic incidents more than enough to ban assault weapons?

These questions need answers, for a kid with “an old soul” who used to listen to a song by Elvis Presley, “There will be peace in the valley, for me, oh Lord, I pray.”