The deadline for New Zealanders to turn over their newly outlawed firearms and accessories is fast approaching, a government official announced last week.
“Don’t wait. Police are very clear that the deadline is looming,” said Police Minister Stuart Nash in a press release dated Oct. 31.
“If people don’t hand in the other prohibited firearms and parts by 20 December they will get no money and will face up to five years in prison and the loss of their firearms license,” he added.
What’s being dubbed a “buyback” program, officially called the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Regulations 2019, kicked off mid-July, roughly 16 weeks ago. It banned most semiautomatic firearms, all modern sporting rifles, and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. There is no grandfather clause or exemption.
Thus far, an estimated 19,000 gun owners have traded in over 32,000 firearms at almost 350 “collection events” for $62 million in payments or about $500 per gun.
Given that there are as many as 175,000 prohibited semiautomatic firearms in circulation, that would indicate a compliance rate of around 18 percent. If the current pace of confiscation continues — 2,000 guns per week — officials can expect another 12,000 to 14,000 firearms for a total of 44,000 to 46,000 firearms, or a final compliance rate of about 26 percent.
“Since the first firearms collection event on Saturday 13 July in Christchurch I have been full of praise for those law-abiding firearms owners who are doing the right thing and for Police who have worked hard to make the process easy to follow,” Nash said.
“Lawful firearms owners did nothing wrong but the law changed and they found themselves with prohibited weapons. This was never aimed at them but was designed to stop another terror attack like that on 15 March,” he continued, referencing the terrorist attacks at mosques in the city of Christchurch that left 51 dead and 49 wounded.
Nash also said that 120,000 prohibited parts such as “high-capacity” magazines have also been exchanged.
Would a mandatory “buyback” scheme like New Zealand’s ever fly here in the U.S.?
Well, to put things in perspective, one presidential hopeful promised to do just that. Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke. During a Democratic presidential debate in September, when asked about confiscation, he went so far as to say, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47…”
Apparently, that message did not resonate with voters. Last Friday afternoon Beto called it quits, saying in a statement, “Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully. My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the [Democratic] nominee.”
While all the Dems running for POTUS are anti-gun, Beto was the most aggressive. He made restricting 2A rights the centerpiece of his campaign. Now, he gets to watch the race from the sidelines. Maybe, just maybe, there is a lesson to be learned there: confiscation will not be tolerated.