New Zealand responds to terrorist stabbings by taking knives off supermarket shelves

In response to a terrorist incident in an Auckland, New Zealand supermarket in which 6 people were stabbed, a supermarket chain said it was removing all knives from its shelves – perhaps permanently.

When a terrorist entered an Auckland supermarket last Friday, he started screaming “Allahu akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”) and then began stabbing people with a knife. The man was shot and killed, allegedly within 60 seconds of his attack, according to Auckland Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. The terrorist was “a supporter of ISIS ideology,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

In the wake of such incidents, there’s always the question of “what now?” and “what could have been done?” Along with the hand-wringing and public debate, the solution from the supermarket chain, Countdown, has been to simply stop selling knives, according to Reuters.

“Last night, we made the decision to temporarily remove all knives and scissors from our shelves while we consider whether we should continue to sell them. This is in no way a reflection on our customers, but an act of support for our team. We want all of our team to feel safe when they come to work, especially considering the events of yesterday,” said Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s general manager for safety, in a statement issued on Saturday.

Some were clearly relieved by the decision:

Others felt that not selling knives in a supermarket seemed a little silly:

The suspect had reportedly been under continual police surveillance since 2016 “because of his support for a violent ideology inspired by the Islamic State. By law the man could not be kept in prison, so he was being constantly monitored instead,” Reuters reported.

“Police were following the man when he went into the Countdown supermarket in New Lynn mall in Auckland. They said they had thought he had gone in to do some shopping, but he picked up a knife from a display and started stabbing people,” the news site noted.

Six people were reportedly injured in the attack and were taken to the local hospital.

Countdown isn’t the only company removing knives from supermarket shelves. Reuters reported that multiple supermarket chains were following suit, according to local media outlets.

The attack also brought back memories of the 2019 Christchurch shooting, in which a white supremacist killed 51 people and injured 40 others at two mosques in the city. There was also the usual outpourings in defense of Islam, such as Ardern’s statement on the attack.

“It was carried out by an individual — not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community,” the prime minister said. “He alone carries the responsibility for these acts; let that be where the judgment falls.”


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