AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

There are still a few more weeks left in New Zealand’s compensated confiscation plan, but one prominent journalist says the government’s attempted round-up of so-called “assault weapons” has already failed. Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking points out that, despite threats and cajoling by government officials, many gun owners appear to be clinging bitterly to their now-banned firearms.

A month this week to go, and the numbers are unquestionably, indisputably low. 33,620 guns bought back according to the police website. They’ve handed over $70m to buy them back. The gun lobby said it would be hundreds of millions.

The reason it isn’t, of course, is that most of the guns they want haven’t been handed in. Most of the people who have the guns they want, aren’t the ‘hand them in or co-operate with the police’ kind.

It’s true that you shouldn’t expect criminals to hand over their firearms. However, given the estimates that there are something like 220,000 banned firearms that still haven’t been turned in, it’s pretty clear that there are lots of otherwise law-abiding citizens who, at least for now, are choosing not to comply with the government’s order.

Hosking believes the confiscation plan approved by New Zealand’s lawmakers was a bad idea from the start.

As an exercise in ridding the country of the weaponry used in Christchurch, thus leading to the chances of another similar attack ever happening again, this programme has been an abject failure.

It was badly conceived, it was a rushed reaction to a tragedy, it was an example of decision-making designed not to solve anything other than make the government look like they were actually doing something.

It gets neither all the guns nor anywhere close. Nor does it make us any safer from crazies. Most of the guns bought are already being replaced by guns that still shoot a lot of bullets, certainly enough bullets to cause mayhem.

When you are dealing with one person, with one aim; a broad-based political solution targeting innocent, law-abiding people solves nothing. All it does it cause resentment.

Still, Hosking doubts that there’ll be any long term political ramifications for the politicians that rammed through the country’s gun ban and compensated confiscation. NZ First, the political party that attracts quite a bit of support from rural residents, supported Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s demand for the ban, and supposedly many gun owners are now thinking about switching their allegiance to ACT New Zealand, a right-of-center political party that currently has a single seat in the country’s parliament.

Here’s my guess, none of it will change anything. Act’s vote won’t go up. New Zealand First’s vote won’t go down. And if it does, it will be foundations and donations, not guns that sink them.

Mike Hosking knows far more about New Zealand’s politics than I ever will, so if he says he doesn’t think too many voters will actually switch parties over the gun ban, I’ll take him at his word. Still, I can’t help but wonder if there won’t be some electoral blowback for NZ First, given that they were expected to support gun owners in the face of the Labour Party’s attacks. My guess is if the government confiscation of legally owned firearms isn’t enough reason for a voter to look for a new political home, they either don’t care much about their own individual freedom or they feel like there’s nowhere else for them to go.