Ardern’s whirlwind Washington trip dominated by gun control debate

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has left Washington bound for her Harvard commencement speech after a whirlwind trip to the United States' capital, dominated by discussion of gun control.

Jacinda Ardern and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The mass shooting in Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead has brought the issue to the fore once again in America - but even on the Hill, there's acknowledgement that meaningful change will be difficult.

The prime minister has met with Democratic and Republican senators - including Mitt Romney, who has accepted around $20 million worth of donations from the National Rifle Association, a lobby group that works to prevent gun control legislation.

Rick Larsen, a Democrat congressman and chair of the Friends of NZ, said there was no single measure that would change America's mass shooting culture and that rather a range of changes needed to be adopted.

The prime minister has met with a number of Democratic and Republican senators.

The Prime Minister had intended the visit to DC to focus on trade and tourism, and perhaps include a trip to the White House. That meeting still looks likely - perhaps even more so now given the rising role of New Zealand as an ally to the Biden's administrations goals for gun reform and influence in the Pacific.

Speaking with media, Ardern said she shared New Zealand's experience with gun control.

"Today I was not here to do anything more than share the experience New Zealand has had, our own reform and the role it has played and we hope providing greater protection going forward," she said.

"Do we have more work to do? Yes we do but I was more than happy to answer the questions different representatives had on our experience.

I’m always cautious, me as a leader of a nation with different experiences and histories tell other nations what they should or should not do."