On Friday, March 15, a gunman opened fire in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques and killed 50 people, with at least 50 injured.
The alleged gunman, 28 year old Australian man Brenton Tarrant, also posted a long manifesto on social media before carrying out the deadly act. In it, he expressed far right, white nationalist views, and targeted Muslims and immigrants.
In the manifesto, Tarrant praised the work of other mass shooters, such as white supremacist Dylann Roof, the killer in charge of the Charleston church shooting where nine black congregation members were killed, and Anders Breivik, who killed dozens of young people at a summer camp for Norway’s left-leaning political party.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, called the mass murder a terrorist attack, and also mentioned that the killer held extremist views that have no place in New Zealand.
Ardern was quoted saying, “Many of those affected may be migrants, may be refugees … They are us … The perpetrator is not.”
Before funerals could finish being planned for victims, the country was already banning military – style semi automatic weapons, and holding stricter laws on the purchasing of other firearms.
“On [the day of March 15], our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” said Ardern.
Every semi automatic weapon used in this terror attack is now banned from their country. These weapons include ones still legal to buy and own in the U.S., and ones that were used in mass shootings, such as those in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers died while at school, and Las Vegas, where 58 people died attending a concert.
“Personally, I think that making gun laws stricter will help the situation greatly, and New Zealand has already taken those measures,” said Martin Betancourt (‘21).
“No matter how you lean on gun control, you have to admit that the government taking some kind of action to at least try to make a change instead of simply sending their thoughts and prayers is something that we need to see more of all around the world, including here in the United States,” added Nathan Fetter (‘22).
New Zealand is predominantly a farming country, and many farmers use guns for pest control, as well as to hunt their food. The government recognizes that, so exceptions were made for .22-caliber rifles and for shotguns commonly used for duck and rabbit hunting. However, these guns can have magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds. Exceptions were also made for law enforcement officers.
Fetter suggests the U.S. listen to what New Zealand’s government has done regarding gun laws and regulations.
“At the best of times, some of our politicians seem as if they believe that they are above us and don’t need to listen because they are under the impressions that they know more than we do. It’s time that the voices of Americans crying out to push for some real change in our country be heard, when speaking about gun reform or any kind of action.”
But this issue is not only about guns. The killer that carried out this attack was avid about being against immigrants, and attacked two Muslim mosques.
“It stems from hatred and discrimination toward people of color and people of different religions,” said Betancourt.
“I’d like for the world to be more accepting, but it’s not that easy; I don’t have any solutions for long term hatred.”