As 2019 draws to a close, the gun confiscation programme the government undertook this year has come to an end.
New Zealand had a school shooting this month. The police shot and injured a man carrying an imitation pistol at a school. A top cop said "look to the US" for the reason why police pulled the trigger, but this is very much contrary to the rhetoric of the recently ended gun confiscation programme, dubbed a "buy-back".
Banning centerfire semi-automatics was supposed to make New Zealand a much safer country. If so, then why are the police on edge and expecting more mass shootings? You'd think they'd all calm down, put their guns back in storage, and enjoy the increased safety that Saint Jacinda has bestowed upon us.
They're doing none of those things, because those telling you that New Zealand is now a much safer country are lying—and they know it. They just hope you're dumb enough to believe it.
It turns out that New Zealand didn't fall for the lie, because the official numbers are now in.
33,619 hand-ins were processed and 56,250 firearms were confiscated. Assuming these were all by licensed owners, about 12% of the country's LFOs participated.
6,250 guns were handed-in without compensation as part of the amnesty programme.
Only 63% of the remaining 50,000 were centrefire semi-automatics—that's 31,500.
When I ran the numbers in early September, I established that Gun City estimated there were at a minimum 185,000 centrefire semi-automatic firearms in the country, and according to the National Party there were 240,000. The first is based on extrapolated sales data and the later might be based on some figures from Customs. The government has not released any official numbers.
That gives a final 13% to 17% compliance rate on the targeted firearms.
OK, that was a fail, but what about those scary "Military-Style Semi Automatics" (MSSAs)? Of the 15,037 registered prior to the confiscation, 9,532 were handed-in. That's 63% "off the streets", the rest of the owners have applied for exemptions. The MSSA category also used to include some .22s due to their aesthetic configuration, and this is where the new legislation has a silver lining: all .22 MSSAs are now fully legal on a standard firearms license. They're being imported by the crateload and flying off the shelves.
Shotguns were also affected. Those with detachable magazines were banned, and 11,000 out of ~30,000 were handed in. Pump-actions with 6+ tube capacity were also banned, and 4,500 of ~50,000 were surrendered. Semi-auto shotguns with 6+ tube capacity were similarly affected and 2,000 of ~40,000 were handed over.
It's probable that many of the remaining shotguns and manual-action rifles were simply altered to reduce their capacity, but only 2,717 modifications were registered with the police. It's estimated that as many as 200,000 manual-action firearms were affected by the legislation that Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant helped pass.
I wasn't expecting the confiscation programme to fail this badly, but it did.
For good or ill, New Zealand is now awash with illegal firearms and we end this year a far more dangerous country than when the year began.
New Zealand can become a case study in the futility of disarmament and our own government may be dissuaded from trying again. We'll have those 56,250 firearms replaced with more modern equipment in no time.
Minister of Police Stuart Nash and Police Commissioner Mike Bush have endlessly told us that they picked law-abiding firearms owners as their target rather than gangs, because the law-abiding would comply. Perhaps they grossly underestimated the number of law-abiding New Zealanders out there, or perhaps the law-abiding learned that in New Zealand it's not that great to be on the right side of the law.
The message from this government has been that you'll get much better treatment and more respect if you're not quite right with the law. Perhaps that message has been received loud and clear.
In the end, both Jacinda Ardern and Brenton Tarrant were wrong: New Zealand firearms owners aren't rolling over for anybody.