New Zealand prime minister shows why gun rights matter

Yoan Valat/Pool Photo via AP

Following the deadly shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand enacted a series of gun control measures that removed AR-15s and similar rifles from law-abiding citizens. This was touted as a necessary measure required to prevent such another horrific event from happening.

However, many of us have long argued that such measures are actually a first step on the road toward tyranny.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern probably doesn’t agree with that. In fact, I suspect that she disagrees with it so strongly that she’d like to ban anyone from saying that.

No, I’m not making that up out of the blue. It appears that Ardern isn’t much of a fan of free speech.

[Ardern] continued, “Sadly, I think it’s easy to dismiss this problem as one in the margins. I can certainly understand the desire to leave it to someone else. As leaders, we’re rightly concerned that the most light touch approaches to disinformation could be misinterpreted as being hostile to the values of free speech that we value so highly.”

Yeah, free speech is pretty important. We guard it jealously in the U.S.

The PM went on, “But while I cannot tell you today what the answer is to this challenge, I can say with complete certainty that we cannot ignore it. To do so poses an equal threat to the norms we all value.”

Valuable norms like… free speech, you mean?

So she rolls back gun ownership and now she wants to control what people can say?

Understand, restricting free speech will never be sold as anything but as something necessary for the greater good. The problem with attacking disinformation in such a way is that it will be the government that will determine what is disinformation and what isn’t.

As we’ve seen with fact-checking on social media, it’s not difficult to claim actual facts are false, even when references are included. Do you think the government would hesitate to call something disinformation if it’s too critical of it?

A free society relies on freedom of speech in order to help keep tyranny at bay.

But the insurance policy on all that here in the United States is the right to keep and bear arms. It’s the thing that makes it so a government that gets too interested in stifling the rights of the people will find itself in a bad situation.

But New Zealand doesn’t have that as an option.

Yes, there are still guns, but even before Christchurch, they were more heavily restricted than here. Now, with the most useful tools for resisting tyranny outlawed, the prime minister seems intent on taking the next step toward just that.

And to be clear, she’s not the first.

After the UK enacted its extensive gun control, it also started trying to control speech. That’s been a trainwreck to watch, but even they allow people to disagree. Their restrictions are on “hate speech,” not disagreement.

Now, I’m not saying that Ardern intends to become a dictator. I don’t know the woman so I won’t try to guess what’s in her heart or mind.

What I will say is that if I were to try and create a dictatorship, there’s not a thing I’d do differently than what she’s trying.

Disinformation may be a problem, but New Zealand would do well to remember that the best tonic for that is accurate information, not restriction.

In fact, even if you really are just going to target disinformation, some will say that the restrictions prove that what’s being said is the absolute truth.

It’s a bad road to go down any way you cut it, but it’s also why rolling over for gun control is a losing strategy.