Given that “there are so many law-abiding gun owners who do not commit violence,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, referring to the United States, “the conclusion that many people draw is that mass shootings are due to evil or deeply disturbed individuals and not due to the wide availability of guns.” In theory, that argument would work even better in New Zealand, where mass shootings and murders are far rarer than in the United States.
But unlike the NRA, New Zealand’s interest groups have predominantly lobbied the government quietly, rather than threatening politicians with the scorn of its powerful voter base. The perceived silence of those lobbying organizations led to some calls from gun enthusiasts for a bolder and more vocal stance. New Zealand’s gun lobbies were likely well aware, however, that they are not the NRA and will never be, despite the aspirations of some of their members.
The country’s lobby mainly represents a core of rural supporters, whereas more than 86 percent of New Zealanders now live in urban areas and form a largely liberal majority. In the United States, the ratio of citizens living in urban areas is slightly lower. More importantly, however, the U.S. system of representation and the way congressional districts are drawn increase the significance of rural Republican voters disproportionately.