The danger of Jacinda?s new gun laws

Mike Loder is an Auckland based campaigner for reform in the sentencing of firearm crime. He has researched internal gun control systems for 25 years.

The prime minister has boasted that she will have new gun laws to be forced through parliament within ten days of the Christchurch horror. The Pike River report took two years. However, Jacinda apparently has all the answers right now. Before any formal enquiry even has asked the questions to ascertain what caused this terrible event.

For many ?Getting tough on guns? is an easy option. They often have little affinity with the quarter of a million gun license holders; this is largely due to urbanisation. In their minds, new law changes may work and if they don?t, that?s no great loss.

They have not considered the third option. That bad gun laws make the situation so much more dangerous.

Only weeks ago, Quebec?s administration panicked at the realisation that less than 20 per cent of long guns had been registered ahead of the deadline. So they loosened the rules. Then the deadline passed and 75% of Quebec?s long guns still aren?t registered.

This is the cost of treating people with contempt. Of doing an end run around democracy. This government has developed new restrictions in secret meetings. With unknown advisors. With unknown agendas. Then the rushed changes are to be shoved down the throats of New Zealand.

The Police union told shooters to stay out of the debate. Then Jacinda doubled down on that. Our subject-matter experts would only ?dilute? her intentions.

New York State had to be sued before they gave up their numbers. Only 23,847 people had registered their so-called ?assault weapons? since the 2013 law took effect. So an estimated 976,153 New Yorkers had not.
This means that nearly one million New York State residents became criminals overnight. They were otherwise law-abiding citizens but are now a new category of people. Ones who live outside of laws and control systems.

Likewise, the Connecticut legislature hit the same problem. It was reported:
?They estimated that there were 372,000 rifles in the state of the sort that might be classified as “assault weapons,” and two million plus high-capacity magazines. Many more have been sold in the gun-buying boom since then.
But by the close of registration at the end of 2013, state officials received around 50,000 applications for “assault weapon” registrations and 38,000 applications for magazines?.

So again, Connecticut created tens of thousands of ?newly minted criminals?. With less than 15% of rifles registered. A few months ago in New Jersey, more than a million gun owners also refused to turn in banned magazines.
California has just managed to record less than 5 percent of the guns required to be registered under their latest gun ban. Using data on gun sales from state records, the state only got about 3.6 percent of the total number of firearms they wanted.

In Boulder, Colorado, the city council banned the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. They decided to go easy and let people who already had them ? keep them. They just had to register them. Going by national averages, the citizens of Boulder had approximately 150,000 firearms in need of ?certification? by the deadline. When that date past, the Police Department had certified 85 of them.

This all ignored the lesson of thirty years before. California in 1990 had an estimated 300,000 guns classified as ?assault weapons?. Just 7,000 were registered.

We see the same pattern. In country after country. England. Germany. First there are the press conferences with ministers posing with guns and shaking hands with police. Then the numbers are announced. Then comes the offers of amnesty. Then comes the realisation of the damage done.

New Zealand can expect similar levels of public disobedience. At best a partial compliance. That means guns going underground – where criminals can eventually get access to them. Then terrorists can as well.
This is not an ?If? ? It?s a ?When?.

This all assumes that the government merely tampers awkwardly with the categories of our arms. If they attempt an outright ban ? it will be chaos.
The law demands that shooters will require hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation. Then that gets messy. If you buy the gun back at $9000 ? then what about it?s $3000 optics? Now useless. Its $3000 reloading package. Now unneeded. All the other investments that our sportspeople have made.

Shooters recognize that changes will likely need to happen. We support that. But we want them to address the real issues, not invented ones. We want the final result to leave New Zealand safer. Not in even more danger.

This dreadful attack by a shooter is linked to another terrorist strike. That of a man killing 87 innocents with a truck. After the world was set on fire by other madmen hijacking planes with box cutters. After the federal building was destroyed by a homemade bomb. Before French cartoonists were murdered by smuggled machineguns and on and on it goes.
You cannot legislate away terrorists. You can however make it easier for them to acquire deadly arms by passing bad law.