AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File
New Zealand’s gun confiscation may not be the success that anti-gun Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was hoping for, but that’s not stopping her and the ruling party from moving ahead with another gun control bill, over the growing objections of a number of residents.
A new bill would establish something called a “Firearms Prohibition Order”, which not only makes it illegal for a person subjected to one of the orders to possess a firearm, but makes it a crime to be around one as well. At a recent public hearing on that bill and other changes to the country’s gun laws, a legislative committee heard from a number of New Zealanders who voiced their opposition to the proposal.
The Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom said the new legislation was being rushed, was ill thought out and racist in its intent.
Spokesperson Louise Hutchinson said firearms prohibition orders (FPOs) would impinge on Māori customary rights, which she said were protected under the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand 1835, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights.
She said it allowed for Māori to gather as iwi, hapū or whānau at any given time, and brought into question what happened if someone under a prohibition order was mixing with family members with a legitimate firearm.
“Excluding a person under an FPO from engaging with his or her whānau or extended whānau is a blatant breach of Māori customary rights and indeed human rights.”
What’s fascinating about this is that the Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom is a chapter of the largest gang in the country, though its spokesperson says the local chapter has struck out on its own and is trying to be a force for good these days. Still, it’s likely that some of its members would be targeted with Firearms Prohibition Orders, and that could restrict their freedom of association (which IS a right in New Zealand, unlike the right to keep and bear arms).
Gang members aren’t the only ones objecting to the proposed changes, however. The Otago Daily Times reports that a number of business owners, competitive shooters, and other gun owners are also opposed to any more restrictions on their ability to own firearms.
Professional hunter Robert Wilson, of Manapouri, told of his frustration with licensing provisions introduced after the March 15 Christchurch mosque massacre.
“We are a nationwide business and I have a limited endorsement, one for the South Island only, but apparently I am not a fit and proper person on the other side of Cook Strait.
“I have to apply on a case-by-case basis for any work I am doing in the North Island … with delays in processing.
“I don’t see any hope of expanding my business.”
Then there are the gun owners who were okay with the banning of semi-automatic firearms, but who are upset that government didn’t stop there.
Dunedin Clay Target Club president Grant Dodson said while he had always had concerns about access to military-style weapons, he also had doubts about proposed law changes.
“Parliament needs to create good quality legislation that will make New Zealand safer, because, let’s face it, I don’t want to get shot by some terrorist.
“I do have serious concerns that the Bill, as presented, is a significant lost opportunity.”
The proposed changes threatened to alienate law-abiding firearms users, impose a high burden of compliance, and make shooting clubs and ranges dearer and harder to run, he said.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, if we don’t hang together surely we will all hang separately. The clay target club president may have had concerns about semi-automatic firearms, but gun control advocates are just as concerned about the shotguns he and club members use to break clay pigeons, and I fear he and others are about to learn too late what happens when gun owners don’t present a unified opposition to anti-gun measures.
The new changes to New Zealand’s gun laws are currently before a special committee in Parliament, and could receive a vote in the near future. In the meantime, the country’s gun ban and compensated confiscation program will enter a new phase on December 20th, when the amnesty for gun owners who possess banned firearms will expire. Starting on December 21st, anyone found in possession of the semi-automatic firearms will be facing arrest and prosecution. As the New Zealand Police are reminding citizens:
The possession, ownership and use of a firearm in New Zealand is a privilege and not a right, and it carries significant responsibilities.
Firearm licence holders still have the ability to use a variety of firearms for sport, hunting, and business purposes. This is about balancing the safety of our communities with the use of firearms for business and recreational purposes.
No right to keep and bear arms. No right of self-defense. Just an unending series of gun control bills that will further erode the ability of law-abiding residents to own firearms, until in the not-too-distant future the “privilege” of possessing arms will be granted to only a handful of the politically powerful and well-connected.
The sad thing is, it’s likely too late for New Zealand to reverse course, though I do wish gun owners the best. Those of us in the United States, however, need to fight like hell to ensure that what’s happening to gun-owning Kiwis never happens here.