The Tulane Hullabaloo

United States stumbles drastically behind other countries in reforming gun laws

Michael Chen, General Associate

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Immediately after the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was thrust onto the global stage. A face of grief and empathy, her compassion and sympathy have earned her multiple commendations from various political and religious leaders around the world.

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What truly stands out in Ardern’s response, however, was her immediate drive to push for new laws that would bring change to the New Zealand community. Within ten days of the attack, Ardern announced sweeping gun reform laws to the country, which has a sizable rural population. Believing that these new reforms would “make [New Zealand’s] community safer,” Ardern enacted new policies that would ban all assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic guns.

Ardern’s ability as an advocate for change and sympathy was able to garner her support from the conservative opposition in passing these reforms, a stark contrast to the response of the U.S. government after each mass shooting. New Zealand, a country that has not seen a single massacre since 1997, was able to take a leap of faith by reforming its gun laws while the U.S., a country that has numerous mass shootings every year, repeatedly fails to address concerns about firearms.

The most common mass casualty occurrence in the U.S., mass shootings have reached a record totalling up to over 100 in the last three decades. That is over 100 too many.

The U.S. government’s response to these mass shootings, however, has been incredibly lackluster. From Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stumbling over an answer to whether he will continue to accept money from the National Rifle Association to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell saying that he does not believe Congress can do much to stop school shootings, our government has failed to take action.

From the legislative branch to the executive branch, representatives, senators and presidents alike have made no continuous moves in ardently pushing for gun legislation, which continues to hurt citizens alike today. This shortcoming of responses comes mainly due to strong proponents of the Second Amendment who demand that any gun control reform violates their individual liberties, and the NRA, which pumps millions of dollars into political activities annually.

While the ability to own a gun is asserted as a right by the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has shown, through multiple rulings, that no right is without limits. In the wrong hands, a firearm can deal a devastating amount of destruction upon the people of a community, as we have seen in Parkland, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino, Columbine and so forth.

The U.S. needs to look to New Zealand as an example of what our government can do in answer to such a devastating attack. While thoughts and prayers sound compassionate, they are arbitrary excuses to what can be truly achieved.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
United States stumbles drastically behind other countries in reforming gun laws