New Zealand´s example to the world in undertaking a reform that bans the sale of military-style and assault weapons to general population, after Christchurch terror attack that killed 50 worshippers, should prompt other countries to establish strict controls on the sale and use of these weapons.
The United States cannot remain indifferent to the proliferation of attacks, product of hatred, with military-style weapons easily obtained in retail and online businesses. Puerto Rico, that suffers insecurity, must also control the access to devices that facilitate violent crimes, including those associated with drug trafficking.
The New Zealand government has assumed its responsibility to protect the lives of each of its 4.6 million citizens. It has reacted swiftly and effectively to the merciless behavior of a white supremacist who killed 50 people.
The shooter bought the equipment and ammunition online, legally. He had livestreamed the terror attack on Facebook. He could be seen firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition with a shotgun and other weapons with high capacity magazines. Most of the defenseless victims in the two mosques were immigrants and refugees.
Following this painful event, Facebook should take measures to prevent easily live streaming violent content. The company´s delay in detecting the disturbing images and in quickly stopping the spread of such horror is questionable. It is unfortunate that, still today, scenes of horrific events are still on social media.
The weapons used in New Zealand´s terror attacks is similar to the semi-automatic rifles used in equally cowardly attacks perpetrated against innocents in the United States. As in New Zealand, hatred terrorists have attacked innocents at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada; a high school in Parkland, Florida; and a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Other tragedies not to be forgotten include the one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where many of the victims were Puerto Ricans.
The New Zealand leadership, headed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has announced that, as of April, the sale of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles without government authorization will be banned. A provisional ban seeks to prevent an avalanche of purchases before the restriction takes effect. The ban applies to high capacity magazines and gun components that can be used to create automatic weapons.
The reform includes an amnesty for weapons to be handed in and they have developed a buyback scheme, at a cost estimated between $ 70 and $ 140 million. Citizens caught with banned guns will face penalties, including fines of up to $4,000 and three years in prison. Ardern stressed that life is more important than the cost of the ban.
The announced should motivate survivors and activists that claim to control access to rifles, shotguns and other military-style weapons. In the United States, this fight faces many obstacles, in part because of the constitutional provision of the right to bear arms. However, the value of life should prevail over any other consideration.
Gun control is one of the several factors that can contribute to stop violent crimes. New Zealand´s reform is a step forward in prevention efforts. Education on peace culture as an antidote to intolerance and the availability of opportunities to eradicate inequalities that encourage crime should join these efforts.