New Zealand politicians who rushed to enact nationwide gun confiscation following the Christchurch mosque massacres are befuddled by the lack of enthusiasm from citizens who have yet to comply with the new law. The so-called “gun reform” was expected to rid the vast New Zealand countryside of most semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a specified limit, and shotguns.
Two months ago, Reuters breathlessly reported, “New Zealand police expect tens of thousands of firearms to be surrendered by a guns buy-back scheme.” Law enforcement authorities averred that “it could be more.” Pregnant with the expectation that gun owners would trade their firearms for cash, the political class is nonplussed by the results.
Only 530 guns have thus far been turned in to the authorities.
Out Of My Cold, Dead Hands
Figures released by the New Zealand police had politicians and law enforcement officials scrambling to comprehend what just happened. Michael Clement, the police deputy commissioner, assessed the situation by telling the media that the number of guns expected to be handed over is “a great unknown question,” primarily because the firearms the government is confiscating have never been registered with authorities.
Could it be that the brain trust in Wellington needs to up the ante and offer more money? Is this a statement of personal liberty? Could it be considered “ostriching,” Brit-speak for a friendly ability to ignore unpleasantness? Or in psychological parlance, could it merely constitute passive-aggressive behavior? All of these socioeconomic factors may have played a part in the first wave of the buy-back fizzle.
In reality, New Zealand is quite heavily armed per capita, with an estimated 1.2-1.5 million guns in a country of approximately 4.7 million people. To put it another way, the land of the Kiwi is about as big as Colorado with the population of Louisiana. New York City, for example, is home to about 8.6 million (2017 estimate), almost double the size of the New Zealand population.
Mountainous terrain with very few inhabitants largely adds up to a rural people. And what do these folks out in the middle of nowhere do with themselves all the live-long day? Agriculture, forestry, mining, and fishing represent the lion’s share of industry. And then there are all those sheep. Mathematically, there are about seven times more sheep than people in New Zealand. By and large, those who raise sheep and live off the land in what is often referred to as “homesteading” find that firearms can be quite useful when you attempt to live off the grid.
The Deplorable Factor
These people are likely the NZ version of “deplorables,” who strike quite a contrast to left-leaning urban dwellers. New Zealand’s political chatelaine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had an almost unanimous parliamentary vote to institute the gun buy-back, though as Liberty Nation Legal Affairs Editor Scott Cosenza asserts, “Buy-back is really a misnomer because the government never owned those guns in the first place.”
The liberty-minded among us would like to believe that the people of New Zealand are, in the words of William F. Buckley, “Standing athwart history and yelling stop,” but this runs counter to the anodyne Kiwi character. It’s more likely they are quietly demonstrating their “live and let live” sociocultural predilection.
There is, of course, that sticky and ever-present issue of money. Not only will Aotearoa citizens suffer the indignity of being stripped of their guns, but they will also be taxed for the privilege. Some estimates bantered about by New Zealand lawmakers went as high as $500 million to $1 billion to pay for the confiscation scheme. But the truth is, authorities have no idea what it will ultimately cost. Should citizens keep up their non-compliance, then not very much. This would make for a Kiwi win which would allow them to keep their guns and money. But the penalties are stiff for such roguery: Those who refuse to surrender their prohibited firearms could be sentenced to a five-year stay in the slammer.
Much like the United States, New Zealand’s gun-grabbing toffs entrenched in the government can’t stop themselves from trammeling the privileges of those who own guns. As there is no specific right to bear arms per se in the Land of the Long White Cloud, gun-owning citizens face an arduous battle to withhold their firearms from the grasp of the leftist political class.
Perhaps simply ignoring the new regulations may be effective, and law enforcement will find it impractical to round up the firearms of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Whether it becomes an exercise in futility for the government, a quest for a bigger bang for their buck by the people, or merely a quiet sidestep of hastily approved laws, Second Amendment supporters in America would be wise to take note.
It could just be that these laid-back Kiwis are poised to teach us a lesson in how to resist the oppressive and ham-handed fist of a tyrannical government.