New Zealand PM visits White House after gun control pressure

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be received at the White House on Tuesday, less than a week after she gave an impassioned speech about gun control at Harvard University.

The left-wing leader of the NZ Labor Party’s trip to the White House will be the first visit by an island nation leader in the South Pacific since 2014.

“Biden and Ardern will discuss the existing partnership between the US and New Zealand, as well as their desire for a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” The Hill reported. “They will also discuss ‘strengthening cooperation in support of the Pacific Islands region’ and economic affairs.”

Aside from discussions about the economic framework of the Indo-Pacific and New Zealand’s revived trade and tourism industry in the shadow of the coronavirus, Ardern and Biden will also talk “about the climate crisis, ways to counter terrorism.” and the ‘radicalization to violence both off- and online.'”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks on during a press conference on May 27, 2022 in San Francisco, California. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Ardern have formed a new international partnership to tackle climate change. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last week, after the horrific shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 children and two teachers, the Prime Minister received a standing ovation at Harvard University as she advocated gun control and how her government was reducing gun control in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks.

“We knew we needed a major weapons reform, so we did it,” she said. “But we also knew that if we wanted real solutions to the problem of violent online extremism, government, civil society and the tech companies themselves would change the landscape.”

Ardern, a former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, has urged her government to impose strict restrictions on high-capacity semi-automatic firearms and magazines after the shooting.

“This imperfect but precious way of organizing, created to give an equal voice to the weak and the strong, designed to drive consensus, is fragile,” Ardern said.

“For years it feels like we’ve assumed that the vulnerability of democracy is determined by its duration. That the strength of your democracy was somehow like a marriage; the longer you were in it, the more likely it would stick.”

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