President Joe Biden warmly welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the White House on Tuesday, expressing his interest in her views on gun control and online censorship in her country.
“We need your guidance,” Biden said as he welcomed Ardern to the Oval Office. “And it’s a pleasure to see you in person.”
He praised the prime minister warmly for making progress on issues like climate change, combatting “violent extremism online,” and gun control.
“You understand that your leadership has taken a critical role on this global change, it really has,” he said.
Ardern has become a darling of the left after she pushed forward strict gun control laws in New Zealand, banning most semi-automatic rifles after the horrific Christchurch shooting in 2019. She also has repeatedly called for more tech censorship of online extremism, blaming the internet for radicalizing the shooter.
Biden appeared impressed.
“I want to work with you on that effort and I want to talk with you about what those conversations are like if you’re willing,” he said.
Biden expressed sadness that mass shootings continued happening in the United States, renewing calls for change.
“There’s an expression by an Irish poet that says too long a suffering makes a stone of the heart,” he said, claiming he had been to more “mass shooting aftermaths” than any president in American history.
Biden said he met with about 250 of the family members of the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, for about four hours on Sunday.
“Much of it is preventable, and the devastation is amazing,” he said.
Ardern said she was willing to work with Biden on issues of violence, noting that there was a need for global progress on the issue.
“If there is anything we can share that would be of any value, we are here to share it,” she said.
Biden told reporters he planned to meet with members of Congress on the issue of gun control.
“I will meet with the Congress on guns, I promise you,” he said.