Following the horrendous New Zealand shooting March 15, the country’s administration was quick to instill gun restrictions. The disturbing shooting at two Christchurch mosques resulted in 50 injured people and 50 lives lost; it quickly motivated the prime minister to make changes to its gun control laws. Implementing new legislation six days after a crime is quick and irrational, and restrictions might not be an effective way to solve the problem. Any decent and rational human being can agree these destructive actions are nothing short of evil and something needs to change.
What comes across as taking action through the almost immediate implementation of new restrictions, is, in actuality, an unresearched jump to conclusions. These new regulations ban semi-automatic weapons, parts and magazines and call for individuals with these specific weapons to turn them in to government officials before September.
These drastic changes — made in only six days — have 11,100 New Zealand citizens worried, as they signed a petition to advocate for a consultation period to review and inspect these new policies. Many of these citizens and critics wonder if the new laws will be effective or lead to a spike in black market gun sales, or if enforcing current laws would prove more effective.
It’s evident better enforcement of current laws could have prevented the Christchurch shooting. Many signs could have alerted law enforcement to suspicious activity. There were instances of radical activity online regarding the shooter; he had more than 30 comments on websites supporting alt-right and white supremacist ideals.
These warning signs should have been detected and investigated earlier. Instead of banning weapons many New Zealand citizens use for farming and hunting, funds and resources should go toward developing more extensive background checks and giving law enforcement better tools to detect extremist behavior.
New Zealand’s new restrictions are similar to Australia’s gun control policy, a policy proving to be less effective with time. According to an article by the Foundation For Economic Education (FEE), “The 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) [addressing the effectiveness of Australia’s policies in a] study, which examined trends in firearm homicides and suicides before and after the adoption of gun control in Australia in 1996. The authors found no evidence of a statistically significant effect of gun control on the pre-existing downward trend of the firearm homicide rate.” These gun control policies in New Zealand could have the same unproductive results.
The awful shooting in New Zealand leaves so many people heartbroken and passionate for change. It’s not advantageous to implement policies rapidly, and greater research and better law enforcement resources can help prevent terrible acts of violence before they occur better than restrictive policies. Something needs to change, but New Zealand needs time to research and develop a more effective plan.