In case you weren’t paying attention, New Zealand just showed us Americans how a real government governs.
Fewer than 24 hours after a right-wing white supremacist bigot murdered 50 innocent Muslims and wounded scores more in a terrorist attack against two mosques on March 15 in Christchurch, New Zealand, that nation’s government banned military-style assault weapons and assault rifles countrywide, and also launched a gun buyback program.
Both the coalition government and center-right main opposition party supported the ban urgently proposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Meanwhile, after 1,735 Americans, including 189 children and teens, have been killed in 162 mass shootings in the U.S. since 1966, American lawmakers, especially at the federal level, have done … virtually nothing.
One of the reasons New Zealand has succeeded legislatively where the U.S. has failed is partly structural, according to a March 21 Washington Post article, which reports:
“[New Zealand’s gun] lobby mainly represents a core of rural supporters, whereas more than 86 percent of New Zealanders now live in urban areas and form a largely liberal majority. In the United States, the ratio of citizens living in urban areas is slightly lower. More important, however, the U.S. system of representation and the way congressional districts are drawn increase the significance of rural Republican voters disproportionately. That helps explain why the NRA [National Rifle Assocation]can pressure politicians into following its demands, even though NRA supporters account for only a fraction of all U.S. voters.”
“Our form of government, with a Senate that gives extraordinary power to rural states over urban states and is deferential to states’ rights, makes it difficult to advance relatively modest gun-control measures, much less more sweeping measures.” said Webster, the gun policy expert.”
Otherwise, the permissive gun cultures are much the same in both countries, and even in New Zealand their gun lobby has successfully blocked past gun-control measures from being enacted. However, New Zealand, unlike the U.S., does not have the right of gun owernship embedded in its constitution, which makes many Americans more viscerally attached to their firearms and lawmakers more wary of running afoul of the Constitution than their compatriots “Down Under.”
“The gun lobby has been very influential in convincing people the [Second Amendment prohibits any] form of gun control, which affects the politics over even modest measures,” Webster told the Post.
That said, Americans should note that New Zealand did something profound to protect its populace in less than a day that the U.S. has been unable to pull off in more than a century. It achieved this even though Americans are 22 times more likely to die from gun violence than people in New Zealand’s Eastern District, which has the nation’s highest firearms fatality rate.
Please sign up (top right) to receive new Godzooks posts via email, Facebook or Twitter