Ardern’s country banned military-style weapons in April, less than a month after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, killing 51 people and injuring dozens of others.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked Ardern during an interview that aired Tuesday whether she believes other countries can learn from New Zealand’s swift response to the mass shooting.
New Zealand will continue “to have a practical use and purpose for guns,” Arden said. “But you can draw a line and say that does not mean you need access to military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. You do not. And New Zealanders, by and large, absolutely agree with that position.”
“Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws,” she added. “New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States.”
The U.S. has experienced over 100 mass shootings since 1982, and 15 school shootings this year alone, according to Amanpour. It was one of six countries that accounted for more than half of worldwide gun deaths in 2016. (The five others are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala.)
Yet it continues to be relatively easy for Americans to have access to guns, including AR-15-style rifles, military-style weapons frequently used in mass shootings.
U.S. lawmakers face several hurdles when trying to pass sweeping gun control legislation. But it’s difficult to explain how Congress could fail to enact any meaningful legislation, such as a ban on weapons of war, in the face of mass shootings at an elementary school, places of worship, a nightclub, a military base, an outdoor concert and more.