When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.
This truism is on clear display in New Zealand where the leader of a notorious gang said publicly last week that he had no intention of complying with the nation’s proposed, large-scale gun ban.
“Will gangs get rid of their weapons? No. Because of who we are, we can’t guarantee our own safety,” explained Sonny Fatu, the leader of the Waikato branch of the Mongrel Mob, in an interview with Stuff.
“It’s not in our culture to inflict harm on innocent people like what happened in Christchurch,” he continued, referencing the massacre that left 50 people dead. “The attacks between our organizations are gang-on-gang, they do not involve the non-gang members.”
That said, Fatu acknowledged that sometimes there is collateral damage.
“Although there may be peripheral damage and violence that occasionally spills out into the public eye, it is absolutely and without intention for any harm to be caused to non-gang members,” he said.
The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill was overwhelmingly backed by the New Zealand Parliament Tuesday. Only 1 out of 120 members voted against the bill.
Per the legislation, there would be a general prohibition on importing, selling, supplying, or possessing any of the following:
- a semi-automatic firearm (other than a pistol), with some exceptions:
- a pump-action shotgun that is capable of being used with a detachable magazine:
- a pump-action shotgun that has a non-detachable tubular magazine or magazines that can hold more than 5 cartridges or magazines:
- magazines for shotguns that can hold more than 5 cartridges:
- magazines for any other firearm that are detachable and can hold—0.22 calibre or less rimfire cartridges and more than 10 of those cartridges; or more than 10 cartridges and can be used with a semi-automatic or fully automatic firearm:
- any other magazine that can hold more than 10 cartridges:
- a part of a prohibited firearm, including a component, that can be applied to enable, or take significant steps towards enabling, a firearm to be fired with, or near, a semi-automatic action.
Penalties for violating the legislation range from 2 to 10 years in prison, depending on the offense. Merely possessing a banned firearm could land one in jail for five years, for example.
New Zealand Police Minister Stuart Nash had a message for Fatu and his ilk after learning about the gang president’s public defiance with respect to the bill.
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“They are going to hand the guns back and if they don’t do it voluntarily, then the police are going to come after them,” said Nash according to Stuff.
Nash explained that the government is also considering expanding its police presence to target outlaws.
“Along with [Justice] Minister Andrew Little and the Crimes Act, we are looking at how we can increase the ability of the police or give police increased powers to go after these criminals,” he said.
“My advice to the gangs is hand your weapons back,” added Nash.
Citizens will have until Sept. 30, 2019, to give up their guns. The government does plan to appropriate an estimated $200 million ($135 million USD) to compensate those who comply with the confiscation scheme. Details on the “buy-back” are still being discussed.
“Owning a firearm is a privilege, not a right,” said Nash. “We need to remove the most dangerous weapons from our community.”