Those who think banning guns is a miracle cure to all that ails a nation should take a lesson from New Zealand for a reality check.
You remember how New Zealand’s anti-gun leaders received high praise after their knee-jerk reaction in the wake of a mosque shooting that left dozens dead? Well, nearly four months after the attack in Christchurch, the Kiwi gun-control folks are finding out just how hard confiscation is to enforce. The amnesty period for selling guns to the government runs from June 20 to Dec. 20. But it seems gun owners didn’t just roll over and cede to the government’s call for people to turn in all so-called “assault-style rifles”—something officials defined broadly enough to include all center-fire semi-automatic rifles—and even some semi-automatic or pump-action shotguns if they are capable of holding more than five rounds.
What did they expect? One hurdle in the country’s so-called “buyback” plan (though how can the government buy back something it never owned?) uses 95 percent of the projected base price for a new gun for the benchmark amount to offer people. While that might look good on paper, it kind of harkens to the days of auto commercials where they’d scream out the “base” price for a stripped down model. Of course, buying something with all the features you want adds to the bottom line. Besides that, they use 95 percent as a starting point—working downward for things like age and condition of the firearm.
Then there’s the matter of logistics. The gun owner has to go to a collection site, stand in line and fight crowds, etc. Well, maybe the crowds aren’t so much of a problem. But if the buyback fairs are run like the Division of Motor Vehicles here, you can bet it would amount to hours of wasted time.
The sure-to-be paltry cash offerings and time efforts aside, gun owners have raised their hackles at the very notion of the government’s move, and threats of lawsuits are swirling as surely as colorful marine life forms populate the snorkeling waters the country is noted for. Indeed, Nicole McKee, secretary of the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, has said her group plans a class-action legal challenge and some individuals, including competitive shooter David Craze Sr., are also considering lawsuits.
Against such a backdrop, it should come as no surprise that three weeks into the buyback, only 700 guns – of the estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million firearms in the country – have been voluntarily surrendered. Of course, maybe that speaks to the fact that gun owners aren’t afraid to stand up for their rights. As for fiduciary responsibility, some project that it would cost New Zealand about twice as much as the government budgeted if every now-prohibited gun were turned in.
Kiwi officials are bemoaning the difficulties with the confiscation plan, saying that since they don’t have a firearm registry for most rifles and shotguns, it will be darn near impossible to even find out who owns one or more of the now-illegal guns.
Of course, what that means is that in December, otherwise law-abiding citizens—who bought their firearms legally and have not committed any crimes—will be closet criminals.
The situation in New Zealand reinforces a couple of concepts that the NRA has long advocated. First, it proves that the lack of a firearm registry has served as a buffer against confiscation. Had New Zealand already required registration of every long gun, you’ve got to wonder if they’d be knocking on doors—or knocking them down —to get their hands on every rifle they know about.
Second, it shows that every time you give an inch to the gun control crowd, they always want more. The prospect of turning thousands of everyday citizens into felons overnight hasn’t stopped Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from calling for more restrictions on gun ownership. Indeed, a national gun registry has been mentioned, as has the notion of further complicating the process of even trying to buy a firearm, effectively hoping to frustrate people so much that they give up on the idea of owning a gun.
What’s happening in New Zealand not only shows the fallacy of confiscation as a gun control measure. It also underscores why it’s imperative for law-abiding gun owners in America to make their voices heard when it comes to talk of further infringing on our ability to exercise our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.