Ardern recounts visiting terrorist attack survivors who all had multiple gun shot wounds, during final gun law reading

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

"We are ultimately here because 50 people died and they do not have a voice," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today during the Third Reading of the Arms Amendment Bill. "We in this House are their voice and today we have used that voice wisely."

The proposed gun law reform reaches its final hurdle in Parliament today with MPs set to vote tonight on the sweeping gun law changes spurred by the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack.

"We are here because of the victims and families," Ms Ardern told the House. "When I visited the hospitals and the victims, none of them had just one gun shot wound. I struggled to recall any single gun shot wounds."

She said most had "multiple debilitating injuries that deemed it impossible for them to recover in days, let alone weeks".

"They will carry disabilities for a lifetime and that's before you consider [the] psychological impact.

"We are here because of them, and I believe they are here with us, supporting what we are doing here, because these weapons were designed to kill, and they were designed to maim and that is what they did on the 15th of March."

Ms Ardern said she could recall "vividly" when she knew gun laws in New Zealand would need to change, while she was in a briefing with the Commissioner of Police.

"He described to me the nature of the weapons that had been used in this terror attack, and then he described to me they had be obtained legally. I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could have been obtained legally in this country."

Ms Ardern said she was not alone "in feeling that I could not hand-on-heart go down and face, not just the media, not just the public, but the victims that had been left behind from this terror attack and tell them our system, our laws allow these guns to be available and that was OK". 

"We are here just 26 days after the most devastating of terrorist attacks created the most darkest of days in New Zealand's history, and we are here in almost entirely united Parliament."

She thanked the National Party for its support, "who from the moment this issue around the use of these particular weapons in this terror attack arose, I have found to be nothing but constructive". 

The changes to New Zealand's gun laws are set to include a ban on semi-automatic weapons and military style semi-automatics, a ban on parts, magazines and ammunition that could be used for modification into a semi-automatic and a ban on pump-action shotguns with more than a five shot capacity. It will also see tougher penalties and new offences

If passed tonight, to become law, the bill still needs to be granted Royal assent by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. It is anticipated the gun reform will be law on Friday.