After the New Zealand Christchurch massacre, a knee jerk amendment was made to the Arms Act. It bans most semi-automatic firearms, some pump-action shotguns and also certain large-capacity magazines. There are limited exemptions. There are also controls around who may possess parts of prohibited firearms.
Aussies are very familiar with this scenario after the Howard government pulled this card on LAFOs after Port Arthur.
New Zealand residents appear to be showing little regard for the law changeswith less than two months to go before the government-imposed deadline, fewer than 20% of the estimated number of banned firearms have been handed over.
Bearing Arms reported New Zealand Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this week that more than 32,000 prohibited weapons have been returned to the government since collections began in mid-July. Some estimates put the number of newly-banned military-style semi-automatic rifles in the country at up to 175,000.
This would suggest a compliance rate, so far, as low as 18 percent, 16 weeks into the buyback program. With seven weeks left to go until the amnesty period ends, if the current rate of return holds, the New Zealand government is on track to collect around 50,000 prohibited weapons pursuant to the buyback. That would impute a final compliance rate of around 29 percent, at the lower end, which would represent a modest but tangible success for policymakers.
A “modest but tangible success”? I think it’s more like a complete failure. Let’s say when the deadline passes less than one third of the banned firearms have been turned in. What exactly has been accomplished, other than the compensated confiscation of a few thousand firearms and the criminalization of tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens?
“Owning a firearm is a privilege not a right,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in September as the country’s parliament considered new gun control laws. “We absolutely recognize there is a legitimate need in our communities to be able to access guns, particularly our rural community, but what these changes do is recognize that actually there’s a real responsibility that comes with gun ownership.”
There’s a real responsibility that comes with making laws as well, and so far it looks like Ardern’s gun ban is going to create more armed criminals than disarm them, since she’s turning law-abiding gun owners into felons for simply maintaining possession of their legally acquired firearms. I’d say that’s pretty irresponsible, no matter how well-intended the gun grab may have been. There’s no such thing as banning your way to safety, but you can definitely ban your way to massive non-compliance. Six weeks away from its deadline, it looks like that’s exactly where New Zealand is headed.