Senator Bernie Sanders has said the US should ban assault weapons, following the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Vermont Democrat said America should follow New Zealand’s lead and ban military-style weapons for civilians.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to ban assault weapons in her country following the deadly terrorist attack. The country’s cabinet agreed to a ban within days of the incident, with many gun owners voluntarily surrendering their weapons.
“This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like,” Sanders said. “We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has already come out against Sanders’ suggestion. The NRA is a powerful lobby group and the combination of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court rulings would make a ban legally and politically difficult.
The New Zealand government will introduce a gun buyback scheme to encourage gun owners to surrender their weapons voluntarily. There are an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million guns in the country, which has a population of 5 million.
Restrictions on gun ownership are much tighter in most other developed democracies. The US has consistently bucked the trend of firearms regulation. No other major nation has such a powerful pro-gun lobby or such a strong gun subculture.