Gun ‘Buyback’ Pure Political Theatre

ACT party

The start of the government’s gun ‘buyback’ (it never owned them) is another day of political theatre over good policy.

ACT stood alone against the firearms legislation in April because of its rushed and undemocratic nature. We said that it was done more for CNN than the New Zealand public, and will likely make us less safe.

On Saturday, we saw only the most law-abiding firearm owners show up to surrender their firearms for hastily-created and unjust prices in the full public glare at what the Police minister calls ‘large pubic events.’ Hundreds of thousands of firearms will remain at large, with the goodwill of law-abiding firearm owners eroded by the government’s arrogant and shonky process.

The net result is that we will likely be less safe than on March 15 because of the government’s use of parliament for political theatre, with the consent of every other political party. The most civic-minded will hand their firearms in, and make positive, reassuring statements to the television cameras but it is not their firearms we should have been worried about.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy is the government’s decision to exclude illegally-held firearms from the buyback. It appears to be telling law-abiding firearm owners ‘line up’ while telling criminals ‘keep doing what you’re doing’.

What the government should have done is consulted properly and worked with the firearm community instead of trying to make them scapegoats by association for our nation’s tragedy. 

ACT has done just that over the past several months, producing a policy for firearm regulation that would genuinely make all New Zealanders safer, while respecting the legitimate interests of the firearm community. The policy in draft form can be read here.

ACT’s policy would move those firearms recently prohibited into the ‘E’ category where their use would be rigorously regulated, remove restrictions that have inadvertently banned old-style tubular magazine rifles that are effectively antiques, shift firearm licensing and control away from police to a specialist body, and implement harsher penalties for those who commit gun crime. It would restore confidence for the firearm community and the public in New Zealand’s gun laws, not to mention saving millions of taxpayer money from the gun buyback.

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