“New Zealand has banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday, just six days after attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left 50 people dead.” A. Fifield, The Washington Post
“A buyback program will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation, and gun owners who do not comply will be subject to fines, she said.
‘On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too,’ Ardern said. ‘We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place.’
New Zealand has moved with astonishing speed to rewrite gun laws with support from politicians from across the spectrum and many lobby groups associated with gun use.
‘There is a general recognition that we don’t need these military-style weapons in New Zealand, so it’s very easy to win cross-party support for this,’ said Mark Mitchell, who was defense minister in the previous, center-right government and who supports the ban initiated by the center-left-led Labour Party.
Ardern said the ban covers all ‘military-style semiautomatics’ — defined as semiautomatic guns capable of being used with a detachable magazine that holds more than five cartridges. Parts and accessories that can be used to convert less-powerful guns into military-style weapons are also banned, along with all high-capacity magazines. ‘The time for the easy availability of these weapons must end, and today it will,’ Ardern said at a news conference Thursday afternoon, using her power to create rules under existing legislation to put the ban into immediate effect.
‘In short, every semiautomatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country.’ Ardern said the ban takes effect immediately to prevent the stockpiling of firearms while legislation to make it permanent is being drafted.
Ardern acknowledged there are legitimate reasons for people in farming communities to have guns, so exceptions were made for .22-caliber rifles and for shotguns commonly used for duck and rabbit hunting. But these guns can have magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds. There will be narrow exemptions for professional pest control and for the police and defense forces.
But Thursday’s decision amounts to a total ban on the kind of weapons that were used in Christchurch — and in mass-casualty shootings in the United States, such as in Parkland, Fla., Orlando and Las Vegas.
Among gun-control advocates in the United States, there was immediate admiration that New Zealand was able to act so quickly and decisively, and frustration that American lawmakers have not been able to institute even the smallest of gun-control measures, even after 20 first-graders were killed in their Connecticut school in 2012…’It’s easier to do here because we have a different type of democracy,’ said Paul Buchanan, a former American intelligence analyst who has lived in New Zealand for the past 20 years.
‘There are so many veto points in the United States, and that’s part of the problem. It allows the lobbyists to come in at any one of the veto points,’ he said…The new law is expected to be in place by April 11…Interest groups including Fish and Game, the agency that regulates bird hunting, and Federated Farmers, an agricultural organization, supported the ban. Major retailers had already pulled all military-style semiautomatic firearms from sale nationwide.”
~Our Thoughts and Prayers Go Out To The Muslim Community and To The People of New Zealand~ESL Voices
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Weapons will be banned in this country.
- New Zealand has banned military-style semiautomatic weapons.
- A buyback program will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation.
- New Zealand has moved with astonishing speed to rewrite gun laws.
- The ban was initiated by the center-left-led Labour Party.
- The time for the easy availability of these weapons must end.
- The ban takes effect immediately to prevent the stockpiling of firearms.
- There will be narrow exemptions for professional pest control.
- Among gun-control advocates in the United States, there was immediate admiration.
- There is no equivalent of the Second Amendment in New Zealand.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- It is highly unusual to see an human figure as a target.
- New Zealand has a unicameral Parliament.
- A simple majority is required to pass legislation.
- The new law is expect to be in place by April 11.
- New Zealand is horrified by what has happened.
- Ardern announced an amnesty and buyback program
- Current penalties for possessing guns illegally include fines and three years in jail.
- An group of only 7,500 people will be allowed to own military-style weapons.
- The death rate from guns fell from 2.9 per 100,000 people in 1996 to 0.9 two decades later.
Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
“New Zealand is a___ nation where ___ are often used for ___pests, or recreationally for___and sport. There are as many as 1.5 million___ in the country — one for every ___ people.”
WORDLIST: three, guns, farming, hunting, guns, controlling,
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- The article states, “Only the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, a small lobbying group, said the ban was not needed. By moving so quickly, Ardern made it impossible for the group to put up much of a fight…Because the country is still in shock, the prime minister caught the gun lobby when they are on the back foot.” Explain what this statement means.
- Do you think that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the correct move after the shootings? Explain why or why not.
- What is your position on gun-control? In your opinion who should be permitted to own guns? Why? Who should not own guns? Why?
- According to the article there are legitimate reasons for some people to have guns. What are these reasons?
Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3 questions they would like to pursue in relation to the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.