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New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference at the 'Christchurch Call Meeting' at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 15, 2019. (Yoan Valat/Pool via REUTERS)

After Christchurch

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern does not understand why U.S. has failed to tighten gun laws

May 16, 2019

After March’s deadly terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the country’s elected officials swiftly banned most semi-automatic and military-style weapons. Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently expressed her bewilderment that the United States has not taken similar measures, though it has experienced dozens of mass shootings in recent decades.

“Australia experienced a massacre and changed its laws,” she said. “New Zealand has had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I don’t understand the United States.”

Ardern is in Paris promoting the “Christchurch Call,” an international push to end online extremism that was launched in the wake of the attacks, which the perpetrator live-streamed on Facebook. France, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom are among the 16 countries that have signed on to the pledge, which is the largest-ever campaign against online extremism and terrorism, according to the Hill. The United States declined to join the campaign, citing concerns about freedom of speech.

But speaking to Amanpour, Ardern said that the internet should be both “open and secure,” and opined that a global solution is needed to address the unique nature of the attack, which was “specifically designed to be broadcast and to go viral.”

Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have voluntarily committed to the Christchurch Call, which asks tech giants to take more aggressive steps to investigate and remove harmful content and to share more information about online terrorism with government officials. On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it plans to implement a “one-strike” policy for its live-streaming feature, which will temporarily restrict access for users who break the platform’s rules—though the company did not say which offenses would be subject to the new policy.

During her interview with CNN, Ardern said that New Zealand can’t change the landscape of the internet on its own—it needs the cooperation of both international governments and tech companies to make meaningful change. “It’s the start of something,” the prime minister said of the Christchurch Call. “It won’t be the beginning and the end, but I hope the start of preventing this kind of activity online happening again.”

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