It’s impossible to look at New Zealand’s recent terrorist attack and not compare it to similar stories from the US's recent past. In the former, a tiny nation that rarely generates international column inches, last week’s gun massacre in Christchurch has prompted soul searching but swift action too. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been exemplary: refusing to publicly say the killer’s name and on Thursday pushing through legislation that immediately bans all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. In addition, a buyback scheme for weaponry could cost the state as much as NZ$200m (€120m).
It’s a reaction that has led to some questions in the US – and rightly so. How can it be that one nation reacts so decisively after one massacre when the US remains so intransigent in the face of scores of mass killings every year? The US system is, of course, different: the gun lobby is richer and more powerful, and the Senate disproportionately gives power to rural states that tend to be more pro-gun. And then there’s President Trump, who’s not about to change his stripes on this issue. That said, New Zealand offers a glimpse of success to discouraged gun-control advocates in the US.