We must follow New Zealand on guns

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the following statement at a press conference in the capital city of Wellington.

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

The announcement came after the country's cabinet agreed to overhaul the law and ban military-style semi-automatic guns and assault rifles 72 hours after the Christchurch attacks.

"Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned," Ardern continued, adding that she hoped the law would be in place by April 11. "This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency."

This is amazing to me. Less than a month after the tragic mass murder in New Zealand a law will be passed to ensure that this will never happen again.

I hope our leaders in Washington sit up and pay attention. The gun laws in the United States are seriously in need of reform. We have way too many guns and the wrong kinds of guns in the hands of our citizens.

In New Zealand, the gun-to-people ratio is 30 to 100. In the U.S., the ratio is 120 to 100. This is simply unacceptable.

I chose to not have guns in my home, but I do not begrudge those who do. If someone feels the need to have a pistol for self protection or a rifle or shotgun for hunting, fine, I have no problem with that.

I have a serious problem with those who feel the need to own military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. These were not designed for self protection or hunting. They were designed and are manufactured for killing people.

The answer to our problem is not complicated. It does not require consultants or Congressional committees to take months or years to come up with a solution. A buyback program can quickly be implemented to get semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles off the streets and out of homes. The weapons can then be sold to the military, which has a use and need for them.

Gun enthusiasts who hide behind the 2nd Amendment are cowards. The 2nd Amendment clearly states that, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Our forefathers wrote the Bill of Rights to ensure Americans could legally stand up to any person or group of persons who threaten our nation. They did not envision, nor would they have approved of, Americans killing each other, which is exactly what is happening.

It took New Zealand one mass shooting and 50 victims to immediately change their gun laws. Last year, the U.S. witnessed 323 shootings, 387 were killed and 1,274 injured; and three mass shootings occurred at a school.

The time has come for every politician and every citizen to speak up and demand gun reform, serious gun reform. How many more men, women and children need to die before this issue is taken seriously?

Barbara Gambrell

Williamsburg

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