New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s second round of gun control legislation has stalled in the country’s parliament as gun owners and two of the country’s major political parties are pushing back on the proposals. Ardern is still claiming that the new restrictions on legal gun owners will “soon be in place,” but for now there’s no sign that she’s right.
The new proposed laws would establish a gun registration requirement for all firearms, as well as adding new requirements for gun license holders and increasing the penalties for non-compliance. Unlike the gun ban and compensated confiscation that passed Parliament by wide margins in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, Ardern’s latest proposals are being greeted with much more skepticism.
From The Guardian:
Since the bill’s tabling in September, the opposition National party has flagged concerns, meaning all three government partners must support it for it to become law.
The delay can at least partly be attributed to negotiations between government coalition partners NZ First and Labour. The NZ First leader and deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, said negotiators remained a “work in progress”.
“We’ve still got things to negotiate and we’re working on them as we speak,” he said. “Our major concern is to ensure the law works, that it’s fair and that it lasts. We’re not very far away from getting to that.”
I’m skeptical that they’re anywhere close to getting a gun registration law that works and is fair, especially given the fact that it’s estimated that as many as 66-percent of the firearms banned under Ardern’s order were not turned over to the government. If thousands of gun owners in New Zealand kept ahold of their rifles after the government told them they weren’t allowed to keep them, I can’t imagine that any type of gun registration scheme is going to see widespread compliance.
That, of course, is where the increased penalties come in. Ardern has said that in New Zealand, owning a gun is a privilege, not a right, and she’s doing everything in her power to ensure that only a handful of citizens will be allowed that privilege. Those who attempt to maintain possession of their firearms without the express permission of the government would face criminal charges, and Ardern wants to double the penalty for selling or providing a firearm to an unlicensed individual to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Ardern introduced the latest round of gun control legislation back in September of last year, while the compensated confiscation program was still going on. The fact that it’s now mid-March and it still hasn’t been brought forward for a vote is not only a sign that the legislation is getting some serious pushback, but that her gun ban and confiscation isn’t nearly as popular as she thought it was going to be. Clearly a number of politicians feel that there’s not as much appetite for gun control legislation as there was last summer, and they’re dragging their feet on moving forward with the bill.
New Zealand’s elections are coming in September, and we’ll see if the additional gun control measures become a campaign issue for either side. Unfortunately, the most pro-civilian gun ownership party in New Zealand is the ACT Party, which has just one member in Parliament. They certainly won’t take the majority, but they may be able to pick up a few more seats in the September elections based on the blowback to Ardern’s anti-gun (and anti-gun owner) campaign.