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Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez praise New Zealand's new ban on semi-automatic rifles, lead call for US to follow suit. NRA says not so fast.


'This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like'

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Democratic socialists Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.) are leading the call for U.S. lawmakers to follow in New Zealand's footsteps by banning semi-automatic rifles.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a ban on all "military-style semi-automatic weapons" Thursday in the wake of the massacre that killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

"Today I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons," Ardern said Thursday.
"We will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semi-automatic, or any other type of firearm, into a military-style semi-automatic weapon.

"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country."

What did Bernie Sanders say?

Sanders praised the prime minister's decision and used the opportunity as a chance to urge U.S. lawmakers to do the same.

"This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand's lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States," Sanders tweeted.

Five minutes later, and in a similar fashion, Ocasio-Cortez blasted American lawmakers and exalted Ardern for her leadership.

"Sandy Hook happened 6 years ago and we can't even get the Senate to hold a vote on universal background checks w/ #HR8.," AOC wrote. "Christchurch happened, and within days New Zealand acted to get weapons of war out of the consumer market. This is what leadership looks like."

How did the NRA respond?

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch schooled Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez on the differences in living in a country where citizens have constitutional rights.

"First, define 'assault weapon.' Words are important and certain laws come into play depending on which words are used, so define this," Loesch said. "Secondly, the US isn't NZ. While they do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self defense, we do."

"That's also what an entirely different country [does] that doesn't have the right to bear arms as a cornerstone of its constitution, in addition to numerous state laws. It's also what confiscation and banning most semi-auto looks like, too," Loesch wrote in response to Ocasio-Cortez.

What else?

New Zealand's weapons ban is expected to go into full effect by April 11.

The 28-year-old suspect allegedly purchased his weapons legally online and then modified "into military-style semi-automatic weapons," according to Ardern.

The suspected killer is expected to appear in court on April 5.

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