Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 15, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 15, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

'What Real Action to Stop Gun Violence Looks Like': New Zealand PM Announces Ban on Assault Rifles After Christchurch Massacre

"On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too," said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Jake Johnson

Just six days after a white supremacist gunman killed 50 people and injured dozens more at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that the country will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines.

"We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place."
—Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister

"Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch. Now... we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles in New Zealand," Ardern said at a press conference. "Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country."

"On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too," she added. "We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place."

Ardern's quick and decisive action following the Christchurch attack was praised by progressives in the United States, where even the most modest proposals to change America's gun laws following frequent mass shootings are met with fervid opposition from the Republican Party and the powerful gun lobby.

"This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like," tweeted U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate. "We must follow New Zealand's lead, take on the NRA, and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) added:

New Zealand's new reforms—which are supported by the leader of the country's opposition National Party—will officially take effect in three weeks, and interim measures are expected to stop a flood of assault rifle purchases in the meantime.

"I can assure you that'd be a fairly pointless exercise," Ardern said of attempts to buy assault weapons before the new legislation takes effect.

As for assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons already in circulation, Ardern announced a gun buyback program that resembles the plan Australia implemented following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

In addition to taking the lead on bold gun law reforms, Ardern issued a "global call" to fight white nationalism in the aftermath of last week's terrorist attack, which appears to have been motivated by Islamophobic ideas and rhetoric.

Addressing other world leaders in an interview this week, Ardern said white nationalism must be confronted "where it exists," and nations must make sure they "never create an environment where it can flourish."

"If we want to make sure globally that we are a safe and tolerant and inclusive world, we cannot think about this in terms of boundaries," she said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'What Happens When You Warm a Planet': Massive Flooding Kills At Least 8 in Seoul

"Two months' worth of rain in half a day. We are in a climate emergency," wrote meteorologist Eric Holthaus.

Jake Johnson ·


Trump Says Mar-a-Lago 'Under Siege, Raided, and Occupied' by FBI

"The accountability our democracy desperately needs for its survival might, just might, be a real possibility," said the head of a watchdog group.

Common Dreams staff ·


New Ad Against Herschel Walker Features Ex-Wife's Domestic Violence Accusations

A leader at the anti-Trump group behind the advertisement targeting the U.S. Senate candidate said that "our campaign is built around the voices of Georgia Republicans who know that he's unfit for office."

Jessica Corbett ·


Michigan AG Urges Probe of Alleged GOP-Led Effort to Break Into Voting Machines

"We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections," said one democracy defender.

Brett Wilkins ·


Hopes Rise for Return to Iran Nuclear Deal Destroyed by Trump

"We stand five minutes or five seconds from the finish line," said one negotiator, who added that "three or four issues" that are "sensitive for Iranians and Americans" remain to be resolved.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo