When word got out about the horrific March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 50 dead and 50 more injured, the reaction in the United States was predictable. Messages of condolence were issued, mixed with healthy doses of anger, emotion and righteous proclamations that “something needs to be done.” Granted, those are appropriate responses, but is there anything more clichéd these days than the “thoughts and prayers” mantra that gets offered every time there’s a mass shooting or some other tragedy?
In a promising break from the predictable, something different appears to be happening in New Zealand. That something is change.
“Our gun laws will change, now is the time. … People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change.” And lest you think Ardern was blowing smoke, she announced a ban on semi-automatic rifles on March 21, pledging to have legislation in place as soon as April 11.
We understand that good intentions don’t always produce good results, but it seems clear that change of some sort will occur in New Zealand — and soon.
Compare that to the United States, where we have a tragic history of mass shootings, and nothing much has changed.
Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook Elementary School. San Bernardino. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. And the pain is still raw from the Tree of Life synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh a mere few months ago. In all, there have been 15 shootings since Columbine, where at least 10 people were killed, not to mentions countless other incidents with casualty counts that were “only” in the single digits.
Which begs the question: What will it take to prompt change in the United States?
If there was ever a time when we needed leaders to step up and provide meaningful leadership on gun control for our country, that time is now. We cannot continue inaction and politics as usual. We need principled leaders who are committed to saving lives, and who are willing to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates to champion meaningful and effective gun control.
The U.S. constitution is a living, breathing document. Our Founding Fathers weren’t thinking about the potentially murderous plague of semi-automatic rifles when they crafted the Second Amendment. Besides, the right to bear arms can be assured even if weapons designed to inflict maximum damage in a short period of time are banned. Hunters will still be able to stalk deer and other game, and those who feel they need a firearm for protection will still have options.
The answer to solving the U.S. mass shooting problem is simple. For those leaders who can’t figure it out, we suggest that they call Jacinda Ardern.