In an initial move towards tighter gun control by the government in New Zealand, Christchurch held a gun collection drive, the first of 250 planned collections to happen after the Christchurch shooting in March.
New Zealand has become actively involved in banning firearms, ranging from semi-automatic weapons to pump-action shotguns and others. Weapon owners have until December 20 to hand in illegal guns under an amnesty agreement. According to Police Minister Stuart Nash, the aim of the elaborate exercise is to "remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation".
The police-monitored collection drive in the Canterbury region, which includes Christchurch, saw the handing over of 224 weapons, 217 parts and accessories by 169 owners, with more than $290,300 paid in compensation. Regional police commander Mike Johnson said, "Police recognise that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today, that they are finding the process works well for them".
Now described as New Zealand's worst-ever mass shooting, the Christchurch attacks on Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre killed 51 and injured 49. The mass shooting can be seen as a product of the global trend of white supremacy and increasing Islamophobia. Brenton Tarrant, the accused in the Christchurch shootings was described by Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an "extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist" who expressed admiration for other violent white nationalists and his intention to "create an atmosphere of fear" and to "incite violence" against Muslims.
In this atmosphere, New Zealand’s proaction in dealing with the tragedy has attracted international acclaim, particularly for its protection of the threatened minority. Safeguards for minorities need to be a primary concern for all countries, especially in an age where extreme right ideologies are threatening the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence all around the world.
Will New Zealand's response inspire similar arms collections elsewhere in the world? Will more governments make minority protection a priority?