The Confiscation Blow-back Debacle

Advocates for liberty are watching New Zealand as we speak, quietly admiring the individual resistance (quite obviously on display) from members of the firearms owning community in, so far, failing to participate willingly in the confiscation of their devices.

Let me say, from the outset, I have no skin in the game as I have no firearm to lose. I am however very interested in individual liberty and from that stance can understand the admiration felt by some libertarian commenters, for the apparent stand being taken individually, quietly, and stubbornly by those not abiding by the government directive.

Just in the space of the last seven days three posts caught my eye, each with a slightly different take on what this resistance means, each looking for clues in the character of the New Zealander standing by his or her rifle, or into the character of a government which determined it would make criminals of the law-abiding, in response to an event the targeted group had nothing whatsoever to do with.

 Leesa Donner at libertynation headlines her article “Kiwis Just Say No to Gun Ban” and notes: “Figures released by the New Zealand police had politicians and law enforcement officials scrambling to comprehend what just happened” and offers the following possibilities:

These people are likely the NZ version of “deplorables,” who strike quite a contrast to left-leaning urban dwellers. New Zealand’s political chatelaine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had an almost unanimous parliamentary vote to institute the gun buy-back, though as Liberty Nation Legal Affairs Editor Scott Cosenza asserts, “Buy-back is really a misnomer because the government never owned those guns in the first place.

The liberty-minded among us would like to believe that the people of New Zealand are, in the words of William F. Buckley, “Standing athwart history and yelling stop,” but this runs counter to the anodyne Kiwi character. It’s more likely they are quietly demonstrating their “live and let live” sociocultural predilection.

Perhaps Ms Donner is onto something, or perhaps she is projecting her partisanship.

Much like the United States, New Zealand’s gun-grabbing toffs entrenched in the government can’t stop themselves from trammeling the privileges of those who own guns.”

Either way, she hopes the confiscation fails.

It could just be that these laid-back Kiwis are poised to teach us a lesson in how to resist the oppressive and ham-handed fist of a tyrannical government.

At reason.com J.D. Tuccille says, “Officials should have seen it coming.”

That gun owners would, in large numbers, defy restrictions should have been anticipated by anybody who knows the history of government attempts to disarm their subjects—or who just glanced across the Tasman Sea to Australia.

“In Australia it is estimated that only about 20% of all banned self-loading rifles have been given up to the authorities,” wrote Franz Csaszar, professor of criminology at the University of Vienna, after Australia’s 1996 compensated confiscation of firearms following a mass murder in Port Arthur, Tasmania. Csaszar put the number of illegally retained arms in Australia at between two and five million.

Tuccille concludes with a jibe at our coalition government:

If New Zealand’s political class had looked to the history of gun control efforts they would have seen that they were walking a well-trodden path that leads to a dead end. But then again, if they had enough foresight to know that ill-considered restrictions on personal liberty are usually counterproductive and often breed rebellion, they probably wouldn’t have gone into government.

The last take to mention comes from activistpost written by Mac Salvo who begins “If you want to know how to beat gun control, look no further than New Zealand.” Mr Salvo notes:

Kiwis were disobeying the law, and things have still not changed.  Gun owners in New Zealand have all but officially nullified the law by ignoring it.

And, once again, it bears pointing out that responding to a horrendous crime by inflicting knee-jerk, authoritarian restrictions on innocent people proves to be an ineffective means of convincing people to obey the State.

He has more harsh words too for the over-the-top restriction of freedom following the heinous event:

New Zealand’s government also stepped up censorship and domestic surveillance after bloody attacks on two Christchurch mosques earlier this year, flinging itself into full-blown authoritarian tyranny. But that isn’t convincing the public that they need to obey the commands of the government.  As it turns out, people want to be free, and noncompliance is the way they are maintaining a shred of their liberty.  Gun owners, at this point, will most likely never turn in their now-banned weapons either.

One point the various commenters left unsaid, but which I personally suspect aggrieves many hanging on to their semi-automatics, is sheer annoyance at the demonising of their cohort in response to the awful act of terror.

Perhaps they hold the view that the foreign terrorist act which impacted our community had as much to do with New Zealand as the Lockerbie bombing with Scotland; in the sense that Lockerbie and Christchurch were simply the crime scenes. Both were disgusting acts of international terror intentionally designed to shock an international audience with a sickening international message written in the blood of innocents, pure hate. The difference is that the good people of Scotland were never scrutinised as somehow being responsible in the way that the recently criminalised firearm-owning community is being portrayed here.

It will surely be very interesting to see this confiscation play out. But never underestimate the motivating power of indignation.

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