By: Teresa Mull
New Zealand rushed to ban semi-automatic rifles in the wake of the Christchurch mass shooting earlier this year. Unsurprisingly, gun owners aren’t lining up, eager to hand over their weapons.
The Press Herald reports:
Growing opposition from New Zealand’s pro-gun groups has complicated efforts to round up the now-banned firearms under a buyback program. Lawsuits are threatened.
Gun-control advocates argue that compensation rates may not be fair and warn of a possible spike in black-market sales.
The government, meanwhile, is faced with a sobering set of challenges over how to enforce the new law.
There is no national registry for many of the weapons targeted by the ban, including the AR-15 – a semiautomatic rifle that has been used in mass shootings in the United States and is often at the center of American gun-control debates.
As a result, estimates of the numbers of newly banned weapons vary widely. So far, about 700 firearms have been voluntarily surrendered.
Authorities are “operating a little bit in the dark,” said Joe Green, gun-safety specialist and former arms control manager for the New Zealand Police.
“It’s really an open checkbook,” he added, “because they don’t know how many they are buying back.”
Guns ‘Plentiful,’ Crime Low
GPM’s Robert Davis reported shortly after the ban was passed:
“…Guns are plentiful,” in New Zealand, the Times reports. “According to a 2017 small arms survey, there are more than 1.2 million firearms among the population of 4.6 million.”
That amounts to one firearm for every four people, according to the BBC. Does the abundance of guns mean New Zealand has an insanely high violent crime rate? Quite the opposite, actually.
Mass shootings are a rare occurrence in New Zealand. The last mass shooting in the country happened in 1990, when a lone gunman killed 13 people in Aramoana before he was killed by police.
More broadly, violent crime itself is rare on the island.
“In general, most members of the public do not encounter firearms or feel threatened by firearms as they go about their normal daily activity,” reads a statement from Police Minister Stewart Nash. “Violent crime offences caused by firearms has remained relatively low at around 1.4 percent.”
Banning Guns Doesn’t Work
Banning certain types of guns has proven to be ineffective in countries all around the world, as John Lott, economist and President of the Crime Prevention Research Center, recently pointed out to The Daily Signal:
“I think there are a few simple types of questions you can ask people. If they believe that guns, on net, cause problems, ask them to point to one country in the world that’s banned guns, either all guns or all handguns, and seen the murder rates stay the same or go down. I can’t find a country, or a place, where that’s happened.
“You can look at island nations that have banned guns, and what you find, whether it be Jamaica, or the Republic of Ireland, or the U.K., their homicide rates went up significantly, sometimes six, sevenfold increases, after they banned guns.
“And there’s a simple reason why that’s the case. And that is, when you pass any gun control law, you have to ask yourself, “Who’s most likely to obey it?”
“… If I go and ban guns, it’s going to basically be the most law-abiding, good people who are going to turn them in, not the criminals. I mean, you may take some guns away from the criminals, but if you primarily disarm law-abiding citizens, you’re actually going to make it relatively easier for criminals to go and commit crimes.
“And people may point to Australia or something, Australia didn’t ban guns. Their firearm homicide and firearm suicide rates were falling for 15 years prior to the buyback that they had in ’96 and ’97, and it continued falling afterward, but actually at a much slower rate than it was falling beforehand. So, if anything, it looks like it actually was detrimental to the decline that they were having in those types of rates up until the buyback.
“And in addition, they didn’t ban guns in Australia. What they did was they bought them back. But people, after the buyback, were allowed to go and buy guns again. And by 2010, the gun ownership rate in Australia was significantly above where it was prior to the buyback. So, it doesn’t fit any of their stories.”
Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.