News

U.S.

Sanders: ‘We Must Follow New Zealand’s Lead’ on Assault-Rifle Ban

Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) speaks at a campaign rally in Concord, N.H., March 10, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Thursday praised New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern for immediately banning military-style semi-automatic weapons in response to the Christchurch mosque shootings, and suggested the executive action should serve as a blueprint for the U.S.

The ban, which applies to semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that can be equipped with detachable magazines capable of holding more than five rounds, went into immediate effect Thursday to prevent stockpiling, and legislation codifying it is expected to pass Parliament in the coming days. Once the bill passes, New Zealanders will be granted a buyback period, after which they will be fined and jailed for up to three years if found in possession of a banned weapon.

“On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,” Ardern said Thursday. “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.”

Gun ownership is popular in New Zealand but there is no right to self defense codified in the country’s laws.

The announcement comes just six days after a 28-year-old Australian man killed 50 people and injured 40 others while rampaging through two mosques in Christchurch. The second shooting, at the Linwood mosque, was interrupted after one congregant retrieved his firearm from his house and returned to confront the attacker.

While the exact weapon used in the attack remains unknown, images of the weapon appear to show an AR-15, a widely available semi-automatic rifle.

Prior to the attack, the shooter published an extensive manifesto online that was replete with white-nationalist propaganda and mentioned stirring controversy around the U.S. gun-control debate as one motive for the massacre.

Sanders, who was criticized by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic primaries for being too moderate on the issue of gun control, has in recent years embraced the Democratic establishment’s insistence on banning assault rifles outright.

Senator Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), who has helped lead Democrats’ gun-control efforts since the Sandy Hook massacre, also praised Ardern’s swift action in a Thursday tweet.

Most Popular

Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More