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Jacinda Ardern: ‘I do not understand the US’ and its position on gun laws

Despite having three female Prime Ministers, New Zealand celebrates 126 years of Suffrage knowing there is a long road ahead to fully address women's rights and gender equality. REUTERS

Jacinda Ardern: ‘I do not understand the US’ and its position on gun laws

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she doesn't understand the United States' position on gun laws.

Jacinda Ardern: ‘I do not understand the US’ and its position on gun laws

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she does “not understand” why the United States has not passed stronger gun laws in the aftermath of mass shooting events. Ardern made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour ahead of a summit on online extremism in Paris.

Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron are hosting the meeting of world leaders and tech giants to look at how to stop extremism spreading online. The global call for action comes after 51 people died in Christchurch as the result of a terrorist attack that was live-streamed on Facebook.

The Prime Minister told Amanpour in the interview which aired on Wednesday morning (NZST) that New Zealand previously had “pretty permissive gun legislation”. However, soon after the March 15 attacks, Ardern announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

She is now questioning why the US can’t do the same thing.

“Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest, I do not understand the United States,” she said.

While guns have a practical purpose in New Zealand, Ardern went on to say that this does not mean that “you need access to military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles”.

“And New Zealanders, by and large, absolutely agreed with that position,” she said.

“It speaks to the strength of feeling in the aftermath of that attack.

“After you witness 51 of your New Zealand Muslim community be attacked in that way the only answer was to do everything we could to prevent it ever happening again.”

Online summit

The summit in Paris begins on May 15 and was organised by Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. It will see world leaders and tech executives sign a pledge called the “Christchurch Call,” which aims to end the use of social media for acts of terrorism. In her interview with CNN, Ardern said, “is not about regulation, it is about bringing companies to the table,”

Ardern added that co-operation on ending extremist content online was the least that should be expected from Facebook.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is expected to be absent from the meeting but the social media company’s vice-president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, will be in attendance.

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