Jacinda Ardern finds herself front and centre in Washington DC amid gun control debate

A day after the Texas massacre, the Prime Minister has found herself front and centre in the debate over US gun reform.

Jacinda Ardern arrived in Washington DC and found herself in demand from senators wanting to know more about New Zealand's experiences after the mosque attack.

The Prime Minister also found herself having a meeting with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who received about NZ$20 million in donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Flags were gently at half-mast outside the US Capitol, but inside it was a powderkeg of emotional debate.

"Please, please, please, damn it, put yourself in the shoes of these parents for once," Democrat Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said. 

Schumer was having a go at the Republicans and using our Prime Minister to do it.

"I'm going to ask the Prime Minister how they dealt with white nationalism in New Zealand and what lessons we can learn from there and on the issue of guns," he said. 

Ardern was in the middle of it all, speed meeting senators and congresspeople on both sides, including Romney.

Newshub wanted to know whether the latest massacre of children could change his mind.

Asked if he would commit to gun reform, the Senator said: "I think the red flag laws that a number of states have put in place are good ideas and we'll be pursuing those." 

For the record, that's not a yes. And for the Democrats, that's the problem. 

"We have to heal our national soul so that this doesn’t keep happening and can never feel routine. This is not routine," said Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff. 

He turned to Ardern for answers. 

"After the tragic massacre in Christchurch demonstrated the kind of leadership that we need to see in this country right now," he said. 

Ardern said she believes "change is possible". 

"Even on the most difficult of political issues, when you have will amongst your people, then change is possible."

But constitutional issues over the right to bear arms run deep and the mood here doesn't share Ardern's optimism, even among Democrats.

"I don't think it will be, sadly. It's upsetting to me, it's frustrating," said Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen. 

Frustrating, enraging, heartbreaking, big emotions for the day Ardern happened to be in Washington.