On March 15, 2019, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 and injuring 50 more. For a peaceful country such as New Zealand, this hate-charged extremist act of violence was not only unexpected, but has provoked immediate policy changes to prevent future violence, as the government swiftly banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles.
Extremist violence fueled by prejudice and hate is not new in our society, nationally or internationally. But the response of New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has shown the world what conscientious leadership can - and should - be in response to this type of national tragedy. Her empathy, her courage, and her actions have shown support, understanding and compassion for the people of New Zealand – all people, no matter their religion, ethnicity or immigration status because, as she clearly stated, “We are one, they are us.”
PM Ardern also called for a global effort to eradicate hate-fueled extremism and confirmed the victims and their families would receive financial assistance from the New Zealand Government. This is a measured and supportive response that recognizes the trauma those exposed to mass violence experience and the need for ongoing support to ensure the health of the citizenship of New Zealand.
Sadly, the need for long-term support following incidents of mass violence has been starkly highlighted in the United States by the recent suicide deaths of two student survivors of the Parkland School Shooting and the suicide death of the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims, demonstrating the necessity of ongoing mental health services and long-term support for communities devastated by mass violence. The National Center for PTSD estimates that 28% of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and about a third develop acute stress disorder. Available services and long-term resources are key to facilitating healing and providing support to the victims of mass violence within our communities.
Gun violence is a national public health epidemic in the United States. It is time for change, it is time for accountability, and it is time for reform. NPEIV calls upon our leaders and Congress to establish and adequately fund resources for those impacted by mass violence, as well as enact meaningful reform to protect our children, our communities and all Americans.
The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) is an overarching group of individuals, organizations, agencies, coalitions, and groups that embrace a national, multi-disciplinary and multicultural commitment to violence prevention across the lifespan.
NPEIV is committed to reducing interpersonal violence and its consequences through scientific research and application of empirical findings. It is our mission to make the prevention of interpersonal violence a national and international priority and to encourage healthy relationships by linking science, practice, policy and advocacy.
Through our many partnerships and collaborations, it is our vision to end all types of interpersonal violence, for all people, in all communities, at all stages of life. For more information, please visit www.npeiv.org