As she leads a nation still grieving over 50 killings at two mosques, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday declared a ban on military-style rifles, which includes assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and military-like semi-automatic rifles.
Since the attacks in Christchurch, Ardern has become the face and voice of New Zealand to the world and she’s used her platform to denounce the hateful attacks. Her appeal has translated into a fandom dubbed “Jacindamania.”
Here are four things to know about Ardern:
She’s New Zealands youngest leader in decades
Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern was born on July 26, 1980 in Waikato, about an hour’s drive south of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
She is the third woman to become New Zealand’s prime minister and, at 39, is the youngest New Zealand leader since the 1850s, according to her official government biography.
“Ardern had the most meteoric rise to power of any New Zealand PM – three months prior to being sworn in, she was not even leader of her party,” the biography read.
Ardern, a member of the Labour party, graduated from the University of Waikato with a bachelors of communications studies in public relations and political science. She also worked in Britain’s Cabinet and Home offices.
She refuses to give the shooter notoriety
Ardern promised her nation’s parliament that she will not permit notoriety of the man who killed and wounded those at Christchurch. His name has been stricken from all of her future conversations, she said.
“He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist, but he will, when I speak, be nameless, and to others I implore you: Speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing – not even his name.”
She promised tougher gun laws
Ardern said the March 15 attack “demonstrated the weakness of New Zealand’s gun laws” and therefore she vowed to end the “easy availability” of weapons used in the attack.
“The guns used in this attack had the power to shoot continuously. The times for the easy availability of these weapons must end. And today, they will,” she told her nation in a live television announcement Thursday.
As a result, an amnesty and buyback program will be in place for New Zealand’s citizens. However, “tightly regulated” exemptions would be offered for hunters and farmers.
“We just want the guns back. … It’s about all of us. It’s in the national interest, and it’s about safety,” Ardern said.
She’s a mum
As Ardern began her new role as prime minister, she was also about to give birth.
She became the first elected head of state to take maternity leave.
Later, she and her partner, Clarke Gayford, a television host, journeyed to New York City with baby Neve for a United Nations meeting.
“I don’t want to ever give the impression that I’m some kind of wonder woman,” Ardern said, adding: “Or that women should be expected to do everything because I am. I’m not doing everything.”
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