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Biden talks gun control and extremism with New Zealand PM

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Tuesday hailed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her success in curbing extremism and guns domestically as he tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to tighten gun laws after horrific mass shootings Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.

The long-planned talks between Biden and Ardern focused on trade, climate and security in the Indo-Pacific, but the two leaders’ wildly different experiences in the pursuit of gun control played a big part in the conversation.

Ardern successfully won the passage of gun control legislation in her country after a In 2019, a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch. Less than a month later, all but one of the country’s 120 lawmakers voted to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons.

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Biden told reporters early in his meeting with Ardern that he “will meet with the gun congress, I promise you,” but the White House has conceded that winning new gun laws in an evenly divided Congress will be a steep climb.

The US President hailed Ardern for her “galvanizing leadership” in New Zealand’s efforts to curb the spread of extremism online and said he wanted to hear more about their country’s talks on the issue.

Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron launched efforts in 2019 to work with tech companies to take down terrorist and violent extremist content online. Then-President Donald Trump declined to join the effort, but the Biden administration has since joined Christchurch’s call for action.

Biden traveled to Uvalde, Texas over the weekend to mourn with a community he said made it clear to him that they want to see Washington tighten gun laws after the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers . Biden heard similar calls for an overhaul of the nation’s gun laws earlier this month when he met with families of 10 black people killed in a racist attack at a Buffalo supermarket.

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Biden and Ardern also discussed a May 15 Shooting at a lunchtime banquet at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California one person was killed and five others injured.

“The pain is palpable,” Biden said, recalling his painful conversations Sunday with families of victims of the Texas elementary school shooting.

Ardern offered her condolences and said she was willing to share “anything we can share that would be of value” from New Zealand’s experience.

“Our experience has demonstrated our need for gun reform, but it has also highlighted what I believe is an international issue regarding violent extremism and terrorism online,” Ardern told reporters after her more than hour-long meeting with Biden. “This is an area in which we see absolute partnership that we can continue to work on these issues.”

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It is unclear what, if anything, of New Zealand might be applicable to the United States, which has not passed a major federal gun control measure since shortly after 2012 Filming at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 26 dead.

A bipartisan group of senators held a private virtual meeting Tuesday to try to find a compromise on gun safety legislation, but expectations remained low. Senators are not even expected to raise ideas for an assault weapon ban or other restrictions that the public might like to curb the deadliest mass shootings.

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler plans to hold a hearing Thursday on the Protecting Our Kids Act — a package of eight bills that has almost no chance of passing the Senate but will serve as a guide in the debate would. It includes calls to raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; Create a program to buy back large-volume magazines. Adopt voluntary security practices for storing firearms and build on executive action to ban bump-stock devices and 3D-printed ghost guns.

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Ardern told reporters the two countries’ political systems are “very different.”

Speaking about the Christchurch shooting, she said that “there was an expectation from the New Zealand public afterwards that when we know what the problem is that we do something about it from MPs to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles and stuff.” we did that But the New Zealand public has primarily raised expectations.”

The New Zealand prime minister did not press Biden for any specific course of action during their talks, but expressed a broad understanding of what the United States is going through, according to a senior Biden administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation .

Ardern spoke about the scourge of disinformation spreading and amplifying on social media during a speech at Harvard University’s grand opening last week. She said it posed a threat to fragile democracies.

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The Christchurch shooter was radicalized on the internet. The attack, like the Buffalo grocery store shooting, was livestreamed on social media, she noted.

“It’s time for social media companies and other online businesses to recognize their power and act accordingly,” she said at Harvard.

Biden’s talks with Ardern came after he made his first visit to Asia last week, a trip to Japan and South Korea to highlight his administration’s efforts to focus more on the Indo-Pacific.

in japan, Biden launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a new trade pact with 14 Pacific allies, including New Zealand. The US sees the pact as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was pushed ahead without the US after Trump’s withdrawal.

Ardern said she had reiterated her commitment to TPP even as New Zealand joined the new Indo-Pacific framework launched by the US.

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AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/31/biden-talks-gun-control-extremism-with-new-zealands-pm/ Biden talks gun control and extremism with New Zealand PM

Sarah Y. Kim

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