Jacinda Ardern


June 8 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the US. That’s why we’re honoring New Zealand’s third woman prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, this day. Her recent leadership in the face of gun violence shows that you can — and must — offer more than thoughts and prayers in response to the insane global pandemic of mass shootings.

It’s worth recalling how Prime Minister Ardern reacted to the carnage in the city of Christ Church just three months ago. On 15 March 2019, a gunman full of hate shot up a mosque there, killing 51. Ardern’s instant response — a photograph of her hugging a Muslim woman — became a viral sensation and is going to used as a mural on a 75-foot tall grain silo in Australia.

Beyond symbolism, Ardern also pushed through an almost immediate tightening of New Zealand’s gun laws: semi-automatic firearms and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds were virtually banned. A buyback scheme has been introduced much like that Australia successfully put into place in 1996 in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.

Because, honestly, who really needs a rapid-fire weapon besides a soldier on the field of battle?

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there have been 2,089 mass shootings — in addition to the individual cases of gun violence — since 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot up an elementary school in Sandy Hook in December 2012, killing 20 children under the age of 7 and six staff members. And still the National Rifle Association lobby works its proverbial fingers to the bone to block any sane gun control legislation.

Comment if you, too, think that’s just plain idiotic! A society that tolerates #kidskillingkids is not a healthy society. Stopping the surge in ownership of semi-automatic weapons and fittings will not stop hunters and others who shoot for sport. But it will go a long way to halting gun violence as New Zealand and Australia have proven is possible.

They are us.
— Jacinda Ardern

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