In the wake of the horrific Chirstchurch mosque shootings earlier this year, New Zealand’s government imposed strict new firearms laws. As was obvious from the beginning, gun owners are not giving up their private property.
After the mass shooting, which took the lives of 51 innocent people, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country’s “gun laws will change.”
“As soon as New Zealanders hear that someone was legally able to acquire, as I'm advised, those weapons and carry out this event, that will raise enormous questions with our gun laws, and that is why we will respond swiftly," Ardern said at a press conference a few days after the attack.
Those changes resulted in a new gun ban that prohibited “military-style semi-automatics,” and a redefinition that would include nearly all firearms with detachable magazines, Reason reported:
Ardern also intends to "ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons" (MSSAs), which under current law include semi-automatic rifles that have pistol grips, folding or telescoping stocks, bayonet lugs, flash suppressors, internal magazines holding more than seven rounds, or detachable magazines that have "the appearance of holding more than 10 cartridges" (15 for .22-caliber rimfire ammunition). MSSAs already require a special license. Ardern wants to make them entirely illegal, and that includes firearms currently owned by license holders, who will be required to surrender them. They are supposed to receive compensation, but this "buyback" won't be optional.
The new law also banned “high-capacity magazines” – those holding more than five rounds. An exception was made for magazines holding ammunition for small-caliber ammunition.
As Reason now reports, New Zealand gunowners aren’t handing in the legally obtained-but-since-declared-illegal firearms. The latest numbers show just 700 weapons have been turned in. There are currently 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, though it is unclear how many fall under the new expansive ban.
"These weapons are unlikely to be confiscated by police because they don't know of their existence," said Philippa Yasbek of Gun Control NZ. "These will become black-market weapons if their owners choose not to comply with the law and become criminals instead."
The reason people aren’t turning in their weapons is obvious: The government doesn’t know who owns what firearm, and have no way to figure that out unless they go door-to-door searching. That would be an extreme violation of human rights.
The outcome was inevitable, Reason wrote, as one could look at recent history to see. When Australia implemented its mandatory gun buyback program, only about 20% of all banned weapons were estimated to have been turned into the government.
And even more obvious is the fact that criminals weren’t going to follow the new laws anyway. Murder is illegal in New Zealand, yet the mosque shooter violated that law. People who want to harm others will find a way to do so regardless of whatever gun laws are in place.
Stuff, a New Zealand news outlet, reported that gang leaders publicly stated they wouldn’t give up their weapons.
As Reason wrote, this means “Kiwis who actually do comply with the confiscation scheme will put themselves at a disadvantage relative to violent gangs that don't intend to obey.”