Following the hasty firearms prohibition the Labour-led coalition pushed onto New Zealanders in April this year, the government has proudly proclaimed more than 10,000 firearms have been collected at 99 events through the “buyback” scheme. Given that there are likely to be somewhere in the region of 500,000 rifles prohibited under the new law that means compliance is somewhere around two percent. And with 99 of the 300 or so events planned we are now one third of the way through.

Figures of 15,000 firearms have been thrown around, which makes the “buyback” look enormously successful, but facts are important, and the 15,000 firearms are only the individually registered MSSA rifles (previously e-category). Given that all center-fire semi-autos and any .22 rifles with greater than 10 round magazine capacity are also caught up in the prohibition, the actual number of prohibited firearms is likely to be around that 500,000 figure, which is why the real bill for a full “buyback” would be closer to that billion-dollar mark.

The buyback process kicked off in June, giving owners 6 months to comply or “face the consequences”, which are apparently a lot more harsh than actual criminals being convicted of firearms related crimes. Imagine a place where a criminal getting caught holding a stolen firearm receives 13 months home detention, while at the same time law-abiding citizens are being threatened by police and politicians of 5 years in jail for not complying with their new laws. Well, that place is NZ right now, and the authoritarian, lowball, and forced approach the government has taken is why the rate of firearms being handed in is a lot lower than they had hoped for, although it’s likely on target for what was budgeted.

Firearms owners tend to be very reasonable people. The added responsibility of ownership is usually coupled with being upstanding members of the community. The thing about reasonable people is that there is an expectation that the reasonableness should be somewhat reciprocated. Sure, you get unreasonable people, that’s part of life, but when those unreasonable people hold a legislative knife to your throat then respect is lost and compliance is rejected, and rightly so.

So, the “buyback” with 10,000 firearms collected so far has increased safety by zero, and looks to consist heavily of old .22 rifles – likely inherited or unused for a long time so were much more willingly sacrificed. Of the center-fire rifles confiscated so far, it is likely they are only from the most conflict-averse of owners. Any kiwi who would be willing to stand up for our nation in a time of crisis is still holding onto their property, hoping against hope that our politicians see reason, or at least have it forced upon them.