New Zealand is becoming a case study on what can happen when the right to keep and bear arms isn’t enshrined in a country’s governing documents.
Following a decision to ban and buy back all semi-automatic “assault weapons,” Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday a massive new slate of gun control measures designed to “stop remaining weapons from falling into the wrong hands.”
“There is a new normal around firearms. It is a change of mindset,” Ardern said at a press conference. “The most dangerous weapons are being taken out of circulation. Our gun laws date from 1983, and they’re dangerously out of date with technology, with trade, and ultimately, with society.”
“We’re enshrining in law that owning a firearm is a privilege and comes with an obligation to demonstrate a high level of safety and responsibility,” she concluded.
Ardern’s new gun control measures are unlikely to receive the near-unanimous support that Parliament granted to the “assault weapon” ban earlier this year. Among the measures already receiving pushback is a registry tying guns to individual gun owners, which would make future firearm confiscation much more difficult to evade.
The full list includes:
- Establish a register connecting specific firearms with licensed holders
- Tighten the rules to get and keep and firearms license
- Tighten the rules for gun dealers and get and keep a license
- Require licenses to be renewed every five years rather than every ten years
- Introduce a system of warning flags to police can intervene if they’re concerned about a license holder’s behavior
- Prohibit visitors to New Zealand from buying a gun
- Establish a licensing system for shooting clubs and ranges
- Set up a formal group to give independent firearms advice to police, which will include “people from outside the firearms community
- Set up new controls for firearms advertising
- Require a license to buy magazine parts and ammunition
- Increase penalties and introduce new offenses
“This suite of measures would have made it considerably harder for the terrorist to purchase guns in the way he did,” Ardern said Monday in a statement, referring to the massacre that prompted New Zealand’s change in gun law. “He would have had to pass a good character test and the register would have alerted the police to the type of gun purchases the terrorist was making.”
Ardern began the press conference by celebrating the supposed success of the gun buyback program taking place at collection points across the country. She reported that more than 3,200 firearms had been turned in at the 20 “collection events” since the country banned semi-automatic “military-style assault weapons.”
While that’s more than were turned in before the collection events began taking place, as GunsAmerica reported earlier this month, there are likely hundreds of thousands of now-banned weapons in the country. That places the compliance rate at somewhere between 3.2 and 0.6 percent.
The New Zealand Parliament may have capitulated to the gun ban agenda, but Kiwi gun owners may not be so easy to convince.