Have you ever had a knock at your door and been dismayed to find that instead of your latest Trade Me courier package arriving you are faced with a door to door salesperson, or perhaps it’s someone vying for charity donations. The reason they’re there is not important, they are trying to get you to part with your hard-earned, and there are some standard tactics you’ll encounter.

“I’ve just been at your neighbors place and they’ve bought one” or “everyone in your street has donated” are the kinds of phrases you’re likely to hear. The goal is simple – exploit your hard-wired need to be a part of the social group. Humans are enormously social creatures and instinctively form social groups, and in many situations we’ll do almost anything to protect the group, or remain part of the group to enjoy that protection from others. There is a whole rabbit-hole we could dive down, however the important takeaway is this: your neighbors did not buy the thing, or donate – you are being lied to in order to increase the odds of buying into whatever’s being sold.

So now we come to Prime Minister Ardern’s press conference today, 23rd July 2019, in which she quotes firearms owners who have complied with the prohibition.

“Firearm owners have spoken to media and police at these community collection events to share their views on the process”

“Ray Berard handed in his AR-15, the same type of weapon used in the terror attack”…”he said there was no need for a military firearm in civilian society”

“Recreational hunter Nathan Doherty handed in his Ruger last weekend because he said it’s the right thing to do”

We have seen the same type of statements through New Zealand media websites such as Stuff and NewsHub, but the goal is the same: to make firearms owners feel like they are out of the “group” because everyone else is handing in their firearms to make New Zealand safer.

Except that they’re not.

If we trust the statistics thrown about by Ms Ardern in her speech, there have been roughly 3000 firearms handed, plus associated parts, at a cost to the taxpayer of 6.1 million dollars. It was estimated that there might be around 300,000 semi automatics of the type publicly stated as being prohibited, but if you also count the vast number of old .22 rifles also caught up in the prohibition due to hasty and poor lawmaking, then the number is more likely to be in the 500,000 to 600,000 range. A quick calculation tells us that compliance right now is somewhere in the 0.5-0.6% range, and that full compliance would easily cost the government upwards of a billion dollars.

The moral of the story is that it’s important not to listen to the rhetoric. The vast majority of law-abiding firearms owners are not interested in what Jacinda is selling, despite the propaganda machine being in full swing.