Having served as the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand since October 26, 2017, Jacinda Ardern has proved that in her short time in office, she is already one of the greatest politicians of the modern day. Following tragedy late last week, which saw a white supremacist terrorist murder 50 people and injure another 50 in Islamic places of worship, PM Ardern has responded quickly with sympathy, action and great understanding.
The legality of military-style semi-automatic weapons in New Zealand came under quick scrutiny following the attack, because of the two semi-automatic guns acquired legally by the attacker. This immediately prompted PM Ardern to speak out, committing to change gun laws because "now is the time for change." At a press conference on March 18, she said details of proposed reform would be given by March 25 and confirmed that her "completely unified" cabinet had come to a decision "in principle".
Gun owners across the country are now being urged to hand in their weapons, whilst those considering buying a firearm are being encouraged to wait a few days so that clarity can be established around the law.
This quick and instant response is something that the United States of America could learn from. No regular civilian needs access to a semi-automatic weapon. They're not going to be used in hunting, because they would utterly destroy the animal being shot at. Firearms of this sort are designed with one reason in mind; to kill multiple people, quickly and efficiently. There's no need for them to be accessible to the public.
Following the attack, PM Ardern also made it a priority to meet members of the Muslim community in the area. She stood with them and listened to their stories, embracing them to show solidarity and unafraid to let her emotions show. She wasn't the only one. New Zealanders took to their local mosques to offer condolences and stand side-by-side with their fellow man and woman.
Soon after, the Prime Minister spoke directly to those who had lost loved ones in the attack. She said: "We are very focused in ensuring you have the support that you need in the days and the weeks and the months that follow.
"Many of those who have lost their lives will be the ones who will be bringing the income into their households. Many will have dependants and spouses. I want to give you assurance the (sic) through our system in New Zealand, through ACC, there is provision to provide for those families.
"That provision exists regardless of the immigration status of those who have lost their lives and regardless of the immigration status of their loved ones. It includes the cost of burial. It includes support for lost income and that can last for not just months but it can last for years. So I give you that assurance."
There are many leaders in the world right now who could learn something from PM Ardern. Whilst some push hate to divide us, they will forever be the minority. In the face of terror and tragedy, she has done everything in her power to respect diversity and bring her country together. She has proven that above all else, love will always win. That is something we must celebrate as we remember all of those lives lost.
We must do better and we can do better. In recent years, we may have felt deflated and confused at the direction the world has seemed to be going in. It is now though that we see that there are still great people fighting for a positive future. Let's all be a little more Ardern.
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