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NZ PM Jacinda Ardern: ‘Do not understand’ US refusal to restrict guns

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Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, has said that she does “not understand” the US’ reluctance to change its gun laws after her country banned assault rifles less than a month after its worst gun massacre took place.

“Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws,” Ardern told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Wednesday.

“To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States.”

Ardern’s government banned military-style semi automatic weapons, assault rifles, and their associate parts last month, exactly 28 days after a gunman massacred 51 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

Police officers patrol outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019, where a gunman killed worshippers with legally obtained firearms.
Associated Press/Vincent Yu

The death toll rose by one earlier this month after a Turkish man who was wounded in the attack died from his injuries.

New Zealand’s House of Representatives passed the bill after an expedited process, which was prompted by widespread revulsion at the attacker, who used legally obtained weapons to fire on worshippers.

Read more: New Zealand is offering permanent residency to foreign victims of the Christchurch massacre and their families after many feared deportation

Ardern in Auckland, New Zealand, last month.
Phil Walter/Getty

In her CNN interview, Ardern also refuted a popular argument by gun proponents, which is that banning assault weapons encroach on people’s right to own guns for hunting and sport.

She said: “We will continue to be a food-producing nation that deals with animal welfare issues and has a practical purpose and use for guns. But you can draw a line and say that does not mean that you need access to military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. You do not.”

There have been 122 mass shootings and 529 unintentional shootings in the US so far in 2019, according to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive. At least 5,035 people have died from gun violence in the country in 2019, the group added.

Arden gestures to relatives of victims of the mosque attacks during the national remembrance service at Hagley Park in Christchurch on March 29, 2019.
Reuters

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian man and suspected white supremacist, has been charged with carrying out the massacre in Christchurch. Ardern has vowed never to say his name to honor the victims.

The New Zealand government this week also opened an investigation into the massacre, which will look into the suspected shooter’s activities, use of social media, and communication around the world.

The attack was live-streamed on Facebook, and Ardern has called on it and other internet giants like Google and Twitter to help slow the spread of hate online.

Facebook on Tuesday tightened its rules on live-steaming, which Ardern had called for in the wake of the Christchurch attack.

Read more: Facebook is dialling up punishments for users who abuse live video after the Christchurch massacre

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