Christchurch: New Zealand imposed a ban on assault weapons on Thursday, moving swiftly following the Christchurch massacre and triggering renewed calls from leading American politicians for gun controls in the United States.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons were now banned with immediate effect, making good on a pledge to the country of the military-style weapons used in last week’s slaughter of 50 people.
But the crackdown promises to have political repercussions beyond the country’s shores, including in the US where gun control is one of the most divisive national political issues.
“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,” Ardern said.
She added that high-capacity magazines and devices like bump stocks — which allow users to fire weapons faster — will also be banned.
Proponents of gun control in the US and around the world praised the move and denounced the powerful US pro-gun lobby on social media, while American gun supporters defended their constitutional right to bear arms.
“This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like,” Democratic US Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders tweeted.
“We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA (National Rifle Asso-ciation) and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the US.”
High-profile Democratic Congresswoman Alex-andria Ocasio-Cortez contrasted Ardern’s swift action with US failure to enact even modest controls following recurring horrific shootings like Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, in which 20 children and six school staff died.
“Sandy Hook happened 6 years ago and we can’t even get the Senate to hold a vote on universal background checks,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
“Christchurch happened, and within days New Zealand acted to get weapons of war out of the consumer market. This is what leadership looks like.”
US President Donald Trump did not immediately react on his Twitter feed, but NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch responded to Sanders by tweeting that “the US isn't NZ.”...