Gun-related crime is spiking in New Zealand a full two years after the country instituted a nationwide ban on most semi-automatic firearms. The Parliament rammed through the ban and buyback (confiscation) program in the wake of the 2019 Christchurch attack, but the laws have had no positive effect on gun-related crime.
“What we’re looking at is a piece of rushed legislation, or two pieces of rushed legislation, that went through so fast that the unintended consequences of doing that are starting to be realized, and of course the effects that we’re seeing are a less safer community,” ACT MP Nicole McKee told RNZ.
McKee argues that the gun ban legislation alienated legal gun owners and made them feel like criminals, which led to less safety around firearms in general.
“I absolutely believe that. And my reasoning behind that is because of the confusion, the blame as well that was put on license-holders,” McKee said.
“We had Minister Nash stand up and tell the country that if you don’t hand in your guns we’re going to come after you, so when people are still finding out later that they’ve got what is now a newly prohibited firearm, they’re now too scared to do anything with it.”
Nearly 2,400 people were charged with 4,542 firearm-related offences in 2020, according to RNZ. That figure is nearly double that of 2010. An additional 1,862 firearms have been seized this year, which is more than double the figure a decade earlier.
This should come as no surprise. The 1994 Assault Weapons ban signed by President Clinton had no effect on gun violence, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence,” the 2004 study concluded.
That isn’t stopping New Zealand politicians from using the crime spike as justification for even further gun control.
“We do have an increasing issue with gun use, particularly amongst our organized criminals so for me that is more rationale for the kinds of legislation we already put in place,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Morning Post.
“That includes things like creating a gun register, which we continue work on in earnest, increasing penalties, as well as of course the buy-back.”
All parties seem to agree that the spike in gun-related crime has been driven in part by an increase of organized criminal activity following a string of deportations from Australia to New Zealand.
Arden did not explain why these criminals would adhere to her gun ban, buyback, or registry.
The pro-gun community in New Zealand argues that the Christchurch terrorist should never have been given a firearms license in the first place.
“The thing that troubles me most is that police didn’t have the integrity to say right from the outset, ‘we stuffed up, this guy should never have got a license’,” Sporting Shooters Association president Neville Dodd told RNZ.
The 2019 attack left 51 people dead at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.