New Zealand PM Ardern Responds to Uvalde Shooting

She tells Colbert about her country's ban on military-style guns
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2022 1:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – Reflecting on Tuesday’s school shooting, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not view such events as a politician. “I see them just as a mother," she told Stephen Colbert, per the Guardian. "I’m so sorry for what has happened here." The two spoke during Ardern’s previously scheduled appearance on the Late Show, which filmed shortly after the mass shooting in Uvalde on Tuesday. Colbert recalled the 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, that claimed 51 lives; immediately thereafter, New Zealand’s parliament enacted bans on most assault rifles and other semi-automatic guns. He asked Ardern how New Zealand was able to do that “when we can’t so much as pass universal background check.”

Ardern credited her country’s pragmatism. “We saw something that wasn’t right and we acted on it,” she said. “Everyone said ‘never again,’ and so it was incumbent on us as politicians to respond to that.” She went on to explain that New Zealanders still need guns for practical purposes like pest control, but, “You don’t need a military-style semi-automatic to do that.” The comment was met with loud applause from the audience, according to Stuff. Ardern cited the use of a buyback program to help get guns off the streets but also said her country’s gun reforms were not perfect and there's more work to be done.

Arden’s appearance with Colbert is one stop on a US trip designed in part to boost New Zealand tourism, per the New Zealand Herald. She has met with UN chief António Guterres and various media outlets, including an interview with Fortune in which she reflected on New Zealand’s recent decriminalization of abortion and the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned: “For me, this is an issue of women's health and women's rights.” It's not clear yet whether Ardern will meet with President Biden due to COVID concerns, per Bloomberg. (Read more Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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