In today’s political climate in the U.S., there seems to be a pervasive frustration with the inaction of politicians. It feels as if the same story plays on loop- tragedy, thoughts and prayers, then nothing. Every massacre has become a divisive political battle with empathy and thoughtful action lost in a fight over who and what is to blame.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 340 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2018. New Zealand had zero.
In the midst of the endless cycle that plays in the U.S., it was refreshing to see immediate action in New Zealand after just one mass shooting in the last 22 years.
I am not saying U.S. politicians do not care, but the battle over gun rights has brought progress to a standstill.
New Zealand sidestepped that war and took immediate, decisive action, banning semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high capacity magazines. The U.S. would do best to follow suit.
Mental illness can be invisible. Often, we do not know the mental state of a killer until it is too late. It is hard to legislate deeply personal, complicated and individualized issues, but it is not hard to ban military grade weapons for civilians.
Previously, measures preventing citizens from obtaining military grade rifles were not considered controversial.
There was a ban on assault weapons in the United States, but it expired in 2004. The rapid action of New Zealand politicians further highlights the gross inaction of the U.S. government.
When there were 39,773 deaths from firearms in 2017 alone, according to the New York Times, something must change.
Sandy Hook, Parkland and Las Vegas along with scores of other massacres should have been enough.
Now we can only hope New Zealand’s example might spur some productive action.