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  • Will Irvine

Opinion: Five Years On From March 15, Has Our Nation Changed?


Before March 15, 2019, it was considered a proud point in Aotearoa’s cultural identity that we did not experience gun violence on any notable scale. It was commonplace to poke fun at Americans for their gun-obsessed culture. To this day, we still ridicule them whenever a disgruntled teenager has a rifle placed in his hands by the NRA. It’s the easiest retort in the world: “well, you’re racist and you have mass shootings”. The moral high ground felt solid. 

In a matter of hours, that crumbled. Now, five years on, we still have not truly had a national reckoning on what March 15 means for us as a country. Hysteria and misinformation still surrounds our Arab and Muslim communities, especially in the wake of a genocide perpetrated against the Palestinians. Now, with a far-right and Islamophobic Government in power, the basic gun control protections introduced in the wake of the massacre are being rolled back. It is unmistakable what is occurring here. By destroying initiatives designed to protect the most vulnerable in our communities, we are making a very dangerous tradeoff. For every gun-owner that is now slightly more able to manage wildlife, we increase the chance of another tragedy striking our soil. 

Unfortunately, this is a government that relies on the oversaturation of outrage. With the systematic destruction of Māori services, the vicious attacks on transgender teenagers, and the gutting of social welfare and disability projects, very little political energy is left for gun control. Regardless, it’s abundantly clear that this Government is neglecting its responsibilities to protect New Zealanders from another such massacre.


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