Once again, responding to a horrendous crime by inflicting knee-jerk, authoritarian restrictions on innocent people proves to be an ineffective means of convincing people to obey. Specifically, New Zealand’s government—which also stepped up censorship and domestic surveillance after bloody attacks on two Christchurch mosques earlier this year—is running into stiff resistance to new gun rules from firearms owners who are slow to surrender now-prohibited weapons and will probably never turn them in.
Officials should have seen it coming.
“Police are anticipating a number of people with banned firearms in their possession won’t surrender them,” Stuff reported at the end of May, based on internal government documents.
As of last week, only around 700 weapons had been turned over. There are an estimated 1.5 million guns—with an unknown number subject to the new prohibitionon semiautomatic firearms—in the country overall.
That gun owners would, in large numbers, defy restrictions should have been anticipated by anybody who knows the history of government attempts to disarm their subjects—or who just glanced across the Tasman Sea to Australia.
“In Australia it is estimated that only about 20% of all banned self-loading rifles have been given up to the authorities,” wrote Franz Csaszar, professor of criminology at the University of Vienna, after Australia’s 1996 compensated confiscation of firearms following a mass murder in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Csaszar put the number of illegally retained arms in Australia at between two and five million.
Even here at home, gun owners in such presumably-cowed deep Blue states as Connecticut (15% compliance) and New York (5% compliance) raised a defiant middle finger and refused to stack arms when government demanded it of them, to their eternal credit. As Vox says:
The people of New Zealand have seen what has happened post-gun control in both Australia and England. The violence has gotten worse, not better. The governments have gotten more authoritarian, not less. And given the degraded demographic situation in all these countries, only a complete fool would comply with these intrinsically immoral laws and disarm himself.
Amen to that. The above article is over a month old; a commenter posts that the number of weapons turned in as of a few days ago is up to 15,511—still a paltry few, relatively speaking, most assuredly far less than the authoritarian authorities hoped and/or expected.
The dark cloud to this silver lining, obviously, is that those defiant gun owners are going to find getting themselves the requisite skill-honing range time a bit, shall we say, problematic going forward. A freedom that must be carefully concealed and never openly exercised ain’t no freedom at all. As Bracken always says, if you think it’s time to start burying the guns in the backyard, it’s probably time to start digging them up instead.
But still, resistance to the gun-grabbers is a good thing wherever and whenever it’s to be found, infinitely preferable to the kind of sheeplike acquiescence so disgracefully displayed by our once-doughty British cousins. So hats off to the good Kiwis; may the rediscovery of their balls not have come too late, and may their example provide a cautionary note to all those who would rule rather than govern.