New Zealand Bans Assault Rifles In Under A Week, How's That Even Possible?
New Zealand government photo

In less than a week since the massacre at two mosques that killed 50 people in Christchurch, the government of New Zealand has announced a ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles and on high-capacity magazines. In addition, the government will put in place a gun-buyback program to get the weapons and magazines out of circulation. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement after her cabinet agreed on a plan; the actual legislation should be drafted by Parliament and in place by April 11.

"On 15 March our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place," Ardern said at a press conference in the capital Wellington [...] "

Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned [...] This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency."

Ardern explained the ban will go into effect immediately to prevent people from stockpiling weapons, even while the legislation is being drafted. Under New Zealand law, the prime minister can immediately enact new rules under an existing law. (See, they've already got tyranny there.) The Washington Post notes the ban will apply to any semiautomatic rifle that can be equipped with a detachable magazine holding more than five cartridges; parts and accessories that can be used to upgrade other firearms into assault-style rifles will also be banned. Among the five weapons the shooter in Christchurch used, two were semiautomatic rifles equipped with 30-round magazines.

Oh, but what about the practical needs all free people have for guns, like shooting varmints and threatening violent revolution?

Ardern acknowledged that there are legitimate reasons for people in farming communities to have guns, so exceptions were made for .22-caliber rifles and for shotguns commonly used for duck and rabbit hunting. But these guns can have magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds.

There will be narrow exemptions for professional pest control, and for the police and defense forces.

OK, so the varmints are taken care of, but now New Zealand is every bit as likely to have death camps as Australia, Great Britain, and other countries that tightly regulate firearms ownership. So in addition to clamping down on the weapons used to perpetrate a horrific massacre, that means New Zealand is less likely to attract immigrants who believe freedom is inextricably linked to being able to shoot up cops, the military, and brown people? Gosh, that's a shame.

Unlike the 1994 assault weapons ban passed in the US, the New Zealand ban doesn't exempt guns that people already own, which is why the ban will be accompanied by a mandatory buyback program. Ardern said the buyback is likely to cost the government $100 million to $200 million, CNN reports.

An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in from Thursday. The cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme, and Ardern said that further details would be announced "in due course."

[Police Commissioner Mike] Bush said gun drops would be set up at police stations so citizens could safely hand in guns.

"I can't emphasize enough that in the current environment it is important you do not take your now-unlawful firearm anywhere without notifying police," Bush said. "It is absolutely vital that we manage the safe and organized transport of all firearms into police custody."

Can you imagine the calls for violent revolution in the US just over that statement alone? Fox News and NRA-TV would be yelling "The storm troopers might shoot you even if you comply with their illegal orders!!!" and wondering how such a thing could even be possible to anyone who isn't a black motorist or shopper or person just standing somewhere.

The New Zealand assault weapons ban and gun buyback is modeled on a similar law passed in Australia following a 1996 massacre in which the killer used a semiautomatic rifle to murder 35 people, injuring 23 more. And just look at the turn toward forever crushing freedom Australia has taken!

After Australia implemented a similar ban, the country destroyed more than a million weapons, and additional gun buybacks and amnesties have been conducted since. Last year, more than 57,000 weapons were handed in, including a rocket launcher and a World War II machine gun.

In the wake of the reforms, mass shootings in Australia dropped to zero, gun suicides declined by an average of 4.8% per year, and gun-related homicides declined by an average of 5.5% per year.

The assault weapons ban appears to be broadly popular in New Zealand; the political opposition is behind it, and the lobbying group Federated Farmers came out in support of the measure, although it acknowledged some of its members might be grumpy about it.

"This will not be popular among some of our members but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution," Feds Rural Security spokesperson Miles Anderson says.

"We are trying to tread a responsible path. The wrong guns can't be allowed to get into the wrong hands."

"Christchurch, Friday March 15 has changed everything."

Gee, you mean they aren't going to hold a convention in the grieving victims' backyards? What do they even know about lobbying? WaPo notes that "Only the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, a small lobbying group, said the ban was not needed." But on its Facebook page, even that group wasn't screaming about the government having to pry assault rifles out of its members' cold dead hands:

Like all of us, COLFO will consider these implications and make a statement very soon.

Please understand that we are not in a position to respond to all inward correspondence at this time but we continue to work incredibly hard to understand and manage this set of circumstances.

Not surprisingly, the post was full of Americans (and presumably some new Zealanders) urging eternal resistance to the already fascist New Zealand government that is stomping out freedom just because one guy happened to misuse a gun.

Incidentally, we went to see if there's a National Rifle Association of New Zealand. There is, actually! It's a competitive shooting organization and doesn't lobby on gun laws.

And the rest of the world is looking forward to the movie, in which a terrible thing happens and a brave political leadership takes swift action to make sure it never happens again, and at the end that victory still isn't quite enough to outweigh the mourning. But it's a hell of a lot better than thoughts and prayers.

[CNN / WaPo / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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