When natural calamities affect a country, people often support each other and help others overcome the resulting challenges. We’ve seen this happen after earthquakes, tsunamis, and severe storms … but what if the disaster is caused by a person instead of by Mother Nature?
On March 15th, 2019, a gunman walked into a mosque (a place of worship for Muslims) in Christchurch, New Zealand, and attacked people offering their afternoon prayers. What sparked this awful act of violence? The man, originally from Australia, had been planning the attack for months and wanted people to know that he opposed immigrants coming into Australia and New Zealand. The police arrested him, but not before more than fifty people died, leaving the whole nation and world in shock.
New Zealand is often considered a peaceful country, and the last such violent act there was almost twenty years ago. In fact, the country often prides itself on being peaceful yet diverse. This event is one of the most shocking in the country’s history, with one newspaper referencing it as “the end of innocence.”
People across New Zealand came together to support the Muslim community, but many are seeking answers from the government. For example, some are demanding that gun laws change in New Zealand, where currently, anyone eighteen years or older who has a license can purchase a gun. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since banned all assault weapons in the country. The government also created a program to buy back weapons from people who own them. These are significant moves in a country like New Zealand, where residents aren’t required to register their guns, and where there have been no clear laws banning people from owning powerful weapons. The prime minister also said that she would never mention the shooter’s name because she believes he wanted to be known for this evil act, and she doesn’t want to give him that recognition.
Will New Zealand change other gun laws after this incident? We’ll keep you posted.