AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

When legislators in any country create a law, it behooves them to understand that the law will only be followed so far. What I mean is that those who are going to follow it can only be expected to adhere to the letter of the law as written, not necessarily to what lawmakers wanted when they crafted that bit of legislation.

At least, that’s how most Americans look at it.

Down in New Zealand, some officials appear to be upset. It seems that a conversion kit that will turn an AR-15 into a pump-action rifle allows people to hold onto their guns rather than turn them in. For the officials, the problem is that this allows people to skirt the spirit of the law.

There are concerns modifications to guns to comply with new firearms laws could be easily reversed.

Police are looking into whether kits designed to modify AR-15s from semi-automatic to pump-action would allow owners to keep the rifles, which are used in about half of all mass shootings in the US.

Gun Control NZ co-founder Nik Green says allowing the modification kit would render the new laws pointless.

“Any conversion isn’t permanent, so you could quite easily switch it back to being a semi-automatic… It doesn’t take these dangerous guns off the streets.”

A police spokesperson said they are still looking into the feasibility of modifying AR15 semi-automatics.

“The Police Commissioner will publish the manner and standard required for the safe and permanent modification of these and any other firearms.

A process for how modifications can be carried out – and a list of approved gunsmiths to do the modifications – will be published on the police website soon.”

Green says people need to take the moral high-ground, with conversion kits not in the “spirit of the law”.

Oh, cry me a river.

People who did nothing wrong are being punished by having their rifles banned, and people are whining because they might, theoretically, convert their rifle into a model that would adhere to the new law and still be able to convert it back?

Son, anyone likely to be a problem isn’t going to convert their rifle at all, most likely. If they do, they’d be breaking the law by doing so, which means the law isn’t accomplishing anything.

What folks in New Zealand forget is that it’s possible to build an AR-15 from scratch if you have the know-how. If you’re going to be that worried about what someone might do, you might as well ban blocks of aluminum and hand files (no, I wouldn’t want to build an AR-15 that way, but it can be done).

The truth of the matter is that NZ gun owners have no obligation to adhere to the spirit of any law. The law betrayed them. The government latched onto a horrific event and used it as a pretext to punish them for something they didn’t do. If the law leaves a loophole so that they don’t have to dispose of the property they purchased lawfully, why wouldn’t they take advantage of it?

Of course, there are also going to be a lot of people who take the “cold, dead hands” approach, and I can’t say that I blame them either.