New Zealand's Gun Buyback Not Off To Banging Start

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

New Zealand isn’t the United States. While the nation may understand a lot of our pop culture references and things like that, New Zealanders aren’t Americans. They have a different history, a somewhat different culture. Their national identity doesn’t stem from a revolution where they threw off the yoke of tyranny from the greatest power in the world to gain independence.

Despite that cultural identity of defiance against tyrannical authorities, though, New Zealanders aren’t bending over to comply with new gun control laws. Few turned in their weapons during the initial period.

According to the AP’s reporting, not many more were waiting to be reimbursed for turning them in, either.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Dozens of Christchurch gun owners on Saturday handed over their weapons in exchange for money, in the first of more than 250 planned buyback events around New Zealand after the government outlawed many types of semi-automatics.

Police said they paid more than 430,000 New Zealand dollars ($288,000) to 169 gun owners during the event. The money was paid directly into the bank accounts of gun owners.

Police said at least 14,000 guns around the country are banned under the new legislation. There are an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million guns in New Zealand and 250,000 licensed gun owners.

Under the buyback scheme, gun owners are compensated between 25% and 95% of the pre-tax price of a new gun, depending on the condition of their weapon.

People who own guns that are not banned under the new laws can also turn over their weapons during the amnesty, although they won’t get any compensation. Police said a half-dozen such weapons were turned in during the Christchurch event.

Now, I’ll at least give the New Zealand government kudos for trying to make the payment enticing for those who are going to turn in their guns. Most American buybacks are a flat rate, which does nothing to encourage anyone to do anything except dump guns used in crimes.

That said, only 169 guns were turned in? Seriously?

Christchurch was ground zero of the massacre that sparked this law. One would think this would be the biggest push and would get the most turned in.

Meanwhile, there are still Americans who think we can and should kick off a similar style ban-and-buyback scheme here. Do they really think that American gun owners would comply at even a similar rate? If so, they’re deluding themselves.

We’re Americans. We were born out of defiance and struggle. Our cultural heroes said things like, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead,” and “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” We don’t roll over and accept things like that. Look at what happened in New York with regard to the SAFE Act, and New Yorkers are theoretically more likely to comply than someone in the Deep South or Midwest.

Maybe this would give the anti-gun activists pause if they allowed themselves to think about it. All it would do is turn millions of Americans into criminals.