New Zealand gun confiscation program steps on a rake

When New Zealand experienced a mass shooting in April (previously virtually unknown in that nation), legislators there moved quickly to enact a mandatory gun “buyback” of certain semiautomatic firearms. This move was widely praised among American gun rights opponents, including virtually every serious current contender for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. Questions about why we couldn’t manage such a feat here in America littered the airwaves of CNN and MSNBC as well as the front pages of most of the major newspapers.

So how did that work out for them? Friday was the deadline and as the Washington Examiner points out, it hasn’t exactly been a smashing success. And if anything, it probably made law-abiding citizens less safe rather than more.

The deadline for the mandatory gun buyback program was Friday. The New Zealand program successfully led to the compensated confiscation of 51,000 of the targeted firearms. But as the left-leaning Guardian newspaper reports, this is out of an estimated 170,000 such guns currently in circulation. And there are still a minimum of 1.2 million legally owned firearms in New Zealand on top of that.

This means that many people ignored the demand that they turn in their guns and trust the supposedly benevolent government to protect them from themselves.

To give credit where due, despite being less than one-third of the registered qualifying weapons out there, convincing more than 50,000 citizens to disarm themselves in a matter of months is fairly impressive for any nanny state. But that’s far from being the most important part of this story.

First of all, there are still more than 120,000 lawful gun owners out there defying the confiscation order. The government can either ignore that fact or start rounding people up. And we should point out that they’ll be trying to round up armed citizens. New Zealand is pretty much in a lose-lose situation at this point. If they ignore the people defying the order they look impotent. But if they try to enforce it via strongarm tactics, there could be a lot of people involved in gun battles.

Even if participation had been near 100%, what would they have gained? The people who followed the government’s orders and turned in their firearms are, by definition. most likely law-abiding citizens. But do you really think the criminals with unregistered weapons were turning them in? Unlikely to say the least. So now you have 51,000 lawful people with no way to defend themselves while the potentially violent criminals are still armed.

It’s also worth noting that New Zealand adopted the gun-grabbing language of the American left. They’re calling this a “buyback” but you can’t actually buy back something you didn’t sell in the first place. This is a mandatory confiscation order with a financial incentive added as a sweetener, nothing more.

We’ll need to give the story a year or two to ripen before we’ll have any solid data on what the results are. But it shouldn’t be too hard to predict. New Zealand didn’t actually have any real mass shootings before the one that prompted this confiscation order, so the odds of gun violence decreasing are pretty low. It will either stay the same or increase. And as I stated above, the idea that the armed criminals out there were turning in their illegal weapons is pretty far fetched. So we probably shouldn’t expect gun crimes, in general, to go down much either.

Beautiful plan, New Zealand. It bought you a lot of positive headlines in the United States, but probably not much more than that.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023