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.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Urges Biden to Make 'Transformative Change' in Approach to Global Food and Agriculture

"This pro-corporate agriculture agenda must change under your watch."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·


US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo