There has been a lot of controversy over the new firearms laws rushed into place after the March Mosque attacks in Christchurch. Some observers say that the law tramples on rights and confiscates private property, and others say that the government is right to remove dangerous firearms from the community at any cost.
So, who is right? well, actually that is the wrong question to ask. The debate on getting the right balance between gun ownership and control has been going on for a long time, and the heated climate following the shooting in Christchurch is definitely not likely to generated a cool-headed debate. Instead, the question we need to ask is whether or not the government should have passed a new law so quickly and without any real consultation. You don’t have to be a firearm owner or an anti-gun campaigner to realize that pushing a law through so quickly and skirting around the usual process is a bad idea. A really bad idea. You can extrapolate it to anything – perhaps a tragedy occurs involving a few boats and the people are appalled. In response all private boat ownership is revoked and only commercial operators are now allowed to own boats. “Owning a boat is a privilege, not a right”. If you’re not a fan of boats then you might think that’s ok since we hear about boating deaths frequently, but the principle is the same in that the government is removing rights that individuals could previously exercise and forcibly removing private property from citizens.
Boats or firearms, it does not matter because the process of law-making should be under scrutiny here, and the important factor is that the government has rushed through legislation that criminalizes and penalizes many law abiding citizens of New Zealand. And it did so without any real consultation or the time to make an informed decision. The Select Committee formed to assess the bill spent just a few days instead of the usual 6 months. But why 6 months? that’s a long time you ask? well the machinery of Democracy is intentionally slow-moving so as to create stability, and it takes time to understand the issues and craft regulations that will have the desired outcomes. If it were a regular occurrence to push bills into law in a matter of days then there could be no certainty about what will be legal next week or next month. And uncertainty is a nation-killer. How can business function in an uncertain climate? Business is a long-term game, so without stability you can’t invest, and without investment you have no trade, and without trade you have no taxes, and without taxes you have no government.
It is clear that the worst offence here is Prime Minister Ardern and that her pre-existing anti-gun position has pushed a rushed through bill written by Members of Parliament who know little about firearms or the related community, and is unlikely to achieve any real positive outcomes. And that’s before you even start to consider the cost to the taxpayer. But many firearms owners support the bill right? well, it depends on how you ask the question, and if you ask it such a way that anything but support for the bill demonstrates the respondent to be racist, then you’re only lying to yourself and the people reading your fake news. Firearms owners are, in general, not only law-abiding citizens, but they tend to be upstanding citizens. The responsibility that comes with using firearms is great, and the general feeling among shooters is that they must be responsible across the board, to justify the faith the community has in them as a licence holder and they hold themselves to a high standard as a result. The sad part here is that this is being used against the shooting community and the government is relying on this upstanding nature to force shooters to comply. Trouble is though, not one person willing to surrender firearms in such a way to an unjust law would ever consider using it against others. So what increase in safety will the community see to justify all this? None. Not a bit.
So, is the law really that bad? Yes. Not because firearms or good or evil, but because the government is over-reaching, wanting to confiscate personal property without consultation or representation, has no real understanding of the issue, and has not demonstrated any likelihood of communities being any safer afterward. And taxpayers are expected to foot the bill, running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Let’s see some options, costs and likely improvements on safety before we rush out and force an agenda-driven law down the throats of sensible Kiwis.