In March this year, 51 people were killed at a mosque shooting in Christchurch. The Australian shooter had legally purchased the weapons in New Zealand. Following the tragic episode, the New Zealand government has rushed through legislation to ban semi-automatic firearms and has set aside money to buy back the weapons that are now deemed illegal.
Since the gun buyback scheme started in July, more than 10,000 guns have been handed back to the police. An amnesty scheme is also in place such that owners will not be questioned about the origin of the firearms if they do not possess the requisite firearms license or papers.
Most people in New Zealand carry a gun for the purposes of sports, recreation or hunting. Some gun owners have voluntarily surrendered their guns out of disgust for the carnage that was caused during the mosque shooting. Some others have responded by stockpiling the firearms that will soon become illegal and have criticised the buyback scheme for offering paltry compensation.
Read the full article on The Guardian: New Zealand gun buyback: 10,000 firearms returned after Christchurch attack
Even though gun control laws are relatively less strict in New Zealand as compared to the US, New Zealand has rarely denied gun licenses to applicants. Additionally, New Zealand does not keep track of gun owners in its country. Nevertheless, the island nation has taken swift legislative steps to combat the issue of semi-automatic firearms ownership.
The moral and legislative response from the New Zealand parliament stands in contrast to that of the US, where there has not been as much of a response. Thus, New Zealand has been lauded for taking responsibility over its gun control laws to protect the safety of its citizens. On the other hand, some gun clubs have criticised the regime by arguing that gun control advocates are politicizing the tragedy in a bid to change national legislation.
The amnesty scheme also enhances the legislative intent to outlaw the possession and consequently, the use of banned firearms. Without the amnesty, owners would obtained the firearms through illegal or undocumented means would be afraid to surrender the guns. If so, the dangerous firearms would still be in public circulation.
Questions for further personal evaluation:
- Should we allow firearms to be legally purchased by citizens? If so, what are the necessary safeguards to ensure that the firearms do not end up in the wrong hands?
- Would it be reasonable to impose the same gun control standards in the US as New Zealand? Why or why not?
- ‘amnesty’: act of government where pardon is granted to a large group of individuals
- ‘paltry’: meagre, measly