Countries around the globe were left dumbfounded after the tragic events that occurred in New Zealand on March 15. A white supremacist took the lives of 50 people during an active shooting in two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister stated that, “Our gun laws will change, now is the time […] People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”
Shortly thereafter, all military-style, semi-automatic weapons were banned, with exceptions for those who need guns for pest control, stock management, and hunting.
This radical response to New Zealand’s first mass shooting since 1997 came as a surprise to many American politicians, given that in 2018 alone, 340 mass shootings occurred in the United States. Real political action had begun to feel like an unattainable ambition. Yet, if New Zealand achieved such unimaginable reform almost immediately in response to their deadliest shooting, then could this also be possible here in the United States?
Put bluntly, no. Not if we continue to allow our current political system to be held up through buyouts and bribes from incredibly powerful pro-gun organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). During the 2016 presidential election, the NRA donated approximately $31 million to Donald Trump. In exchange, Trump offered comments such as, “Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president,” during his address at the annual convention of the NRA. These words should be enough to prove the overwhelming power that the NRA has in American government.
As long as we allow the safety of the American people to be controlled by an organization which refuses to acknowledge the crucial role that gun control has in the prevention of terrorist attacks and mass genocides, we cannot rest easy sending our children to school or places of worship.
In order to achieve the radical change that was seen in New Zealand, we must direct our attention to our corrupt political system. Reform is desperately needed in a country in which, according to the US Center for Disease Control, gun violence claims the lives of over 30,000 people annually.
It is true that the NRA’s federal campaign spending of 2018 is down one third of what it was in 2014 — from $27 million to $9.7 million — and Politico has found that roughly 68 percent of registered voters are now in support of stricter gun reform, as of 2018.
Clearly, the public is aware of this issue, and what it will take to begin fixing it. Now, our goal must be making sure that our voices are heard by the people who are responsible for reflecting the public opinion in official legislation, and that these legislators become more transparent about where they receive their funding, and how it influences the creation of their legislation.