New Zealand’s compensated confiscation program has come to a close, and anyone found to be possession of a banned firearm now faces up to five years in prison. While government officials are patting themselves on the backs for the confiscation of some 56,000 firearms, opposition leaders haven’t hesitated to brand the gun ban and “buyback” a failure. From the New Zealand Herald:

Act Leader David Seymour says he is “mournfully proud” to have been proved right over the failure of the Government’s gun buyback scheme…

“It’s difficult to imagine that, not only the Government, but all of Parliament could have screwed up worse than the knee-jerk legislation that they forced through in April,”
Seymour said today.

“The Act Party takes no comfort from being vindicated from the failure of the gun buy-back.”

He said it’s something he’s “mournfully proud” of.

The justice minister for New Zealand’s National Party concurs, telling the Herald, “As of today, Police estimate they have received over 50,000 firearms, but this is less than a third of what Police advised could be out there.

“The result is a lot of confusion and lack of engagement. The buy-back has arguably been one of the Government’s most important policies. This is yet another failure to deliver.”

Meanwhile, the spokeswoman for New Zealand’s Coalition of Licensed Firearms Owners says not only did the confiscation fail to achieve its objective, it’s shattered the trust between gun owners and police.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee said the “high-handed attitude of the Police hierarchy has led to the almost complete failure by Police at a frontline level to convince firearm owners to hand in their firearms”.

She said many owners of the now-prohibited firearms would hide them to make sure the police cannot get their hands on them.

This was “despite our best efforts to encourage compliance”.

The gun ban and confiscation by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was just the first step. Next up, she wants the nation’s Parliament to pass a gun registration bill, so that the government can keep track of every legally owned firearm. One of the things that’s hindered compliance with New Zealand’s gun confiscation is that the banned firearms weren’t subject to a registry, so the government has no idea who owns the banned guns. Clearly Ardern doesn’t want to make that same mistake with any future bans.

How many gun owners are likely to comply, given that they’ve already seen their government arbitrarily ban and attempt to confiscate legally owned rifles? I can’t imagine that many New Zealanders are going to be any more eager to comply with a gun registration law than they were with the country’s confiscation orders.