What We Can Learn From New Zealand


USA Today

In the United States, Congress is notorious for getting nothing done. The constant arguing and extreme partisanship exhibited by both sides have prohibited our nation from acting in its most dire situations. That said, as a whole, we have a thing or two to learn from New Zealand, who, in the wake of the horrific attack on the Christchurch mosque, was able to come together for the sake of their people.


Often, in the face of tragedy, we sometimes try to place the blame on an individual or group. Of course, in terms of the Christchurch attack itself, the shooter is entirely to blame. As a society, when things go wrong, we tend to want to place our anger on someone or something else to help us cope with the situation we are dealing with. Here’s where partisan politics has come in. In 2019 alone, the 116th Congress of the United States has only enacted 15 of 3,884 pieces of proposed legislation. That barely counts for a percent of the total legislation passed. Even though the process of passing a law through both chambers of Congress is very long and tedious, the inability to put aside our differences has a lot to do with it. And, in turn, our nation has suffered.


On the other side of the planet, however, the New Zealand government saw the attack on the Christchurch mosque as not a way to push a certain political agenda (which is unfortunately how some politicians function in our country), but as an attack on every single citizen of their country. We’ve seen how strong a country can be when we come together and put our differences aside. This is exactly what New Zealand did. Not only have they taken the correct action after this horrific attack, but a piece of important legislation has passed in order to further secure their nation from any possible hateful attacks in the future. This is not about gun control or gun rights. This is about protecting human beings.


This legislation, also known as The Arms Amendment Bill, bans all semi-automatic and military-style weapons, similar to those used on the Christchurch mosque. The main knock on this bill obviously has to do with gun ownership and rights. But, the way I see it, you can look at the passage of this bill two ways: one in which further divides our nation over extreme partisan issues, or the other, in which we can truly take a step back, look at the issue, and understand the situation New Zealand was put in. Similar to the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, New Zealand passed legislation that further secures their nation. Simply put, this bill is not meant to divide their country, but protect it. The impressive thing is that they were able to do it together, both citizens and politicians alike.


How much longer are we going to divide our nation because we’re acting like children? Children that can’t share and can’t work together. As one of the most powerful nations in the world, this is embarrassing. Something I’ve learned about the United States is that our government was built on compromises, people working together to solve an issue and then move on, a stronger nation left for the future. As we’ve seen in so many different aspects of our government today, extreme partisanship has gotten in the way of our country’s foundations. So, when we see New Zealand pass such important legislation in the mature way that they did, we should take note to put aside our differences and come together as a nation when we need to the most.