On March 15, 2019, an Australian born national was alleged to have gone into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand with several AR-15 assault rifles and used them to commit the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history. The assailant took the lives of 50 people attending Friday prayers and wounded 40 more. Some of the injured are in critical condition and may succumb to their injuries. The shooter had a license for the firearms and owned the weapons lawfully.
In response to the mass shooting on March 21, 2019, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden with the support of the opposition National Party and the New Zealand police department announced a plan to “strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.” She and her government have banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles. A buyback program will be implemented to take existing weapons out of circulation: people who do not comply will be subject to fines.
According to the contributors at Wikipedia, under New Zealand law, some lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose is needed to use, discharge or carry any firearm, air gun, or similar weapon. The person carrying, using, or discharging the weapon is obliged to prove the purpose was lawful, proper, and sufficient. This requirement applies even if the person can legally possess the weapon. Exactly what constitutes a lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose is not defined in legislation and must be proven on a case-by-case basis. Hunting game, pest control and agricultural uses, sports, collection, and theatrics are all normally acceptable purposes but personal protection and self-defense are not.
That is in New Zealand. Every country has the sovereign right to create laws that the majority of its citizens and people in power feel are in their best interest to keep their people safe. In the United States, the Second Amendment of our Constitution states, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
People’s opinions, just like those of the politicians in New Zealand and the United States vary greatly. We here in the United States have had more mass shootings than any people should ever have to endure. Some might say why not be like New Zealand and ban all semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles? That should surely stop all future mass killings. When that doesn’t happen and a killer uses shotguns or rifles to commit the next mass shooting should we use our grief to ban those weapons as well? Say we do and the next mass shooting is done with handguns. Should we ban all of those weapons too?
On July 14, 2016, a Tunisian terrorist living in France used a rental cargo truck to deliberately drive into a crowd of tourists celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. His actions resulted in the deaths of 86 people and injuries to 458 others. On October 31, 2017, an Islamist terrorist from Uzbekistan who was living in the United States as a permanent resident since 2010 rented a pickup truck and drove it into cyclists and runners for about one mile in New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others. In keeping with the theme of doing everything we can to keep our people safe from killers who are looking to harm innocent people should we ban the rental of cargo and pickup trucks?
Whether it’s 50 lives lost at the hands of a terrorist using a semi-automatic assault rifle or 86 lives lost by the hands of a terrorist using a rented cargo truck, a terrorist will use any means available to inflict terror onto a people and a country. The irony in these tragedies is that the killers used hatred of and love for the Islamic religion as a justification to take the lives of people who were innocent and unfortunately were caught in the killers’ crosshairs. Would placing a ban on the Islamic religion as well have the ability to keep us safe?
The debate over gun control is a slippery slope. Once you start banning one style of weapon because of illegal use by a person who has ill-willed intentions you will use that emotional reaction to ban any other weapon that was used by killers in other attacks. On June 20, 2018, a group of gang members in the Bronx, NY used a machete to kill a 15-year-old boy in what was a case of mistaken identity. Should we ban all machetes?