Registration Leads Towards…

NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, image via Newsweek

Checking back in with our southern hemispheric friends in New Zealand they have more gun control on the way.

Comprehensive gun register part of next stage of firearms law reform post Christchurch shootings

Seven months after the Christchurch shooting the second tranche of this gun control reform process is underway. The new law emphasises that the possession and use of firearms is a privilege (as opposed to a legal right), and aims to ensure that people in lawful possession of their firearms act responsibly in the interests of personal and public safety.

To supposedly achieve these goals the proposed law will seek improvements in the licensing of shooting clubs. It will also refine who is “fit and proper”, with prima facie restrictions on, among others, gang members and people who show patterns of behavior that exhibit or promote violence, hatred or extremism.

Okay, so far standard, but without a lot of detail in who gets to be a ‘gang member’. Is that covered by being convicted of participation in organized crime? Or can you just get tagged as a gang member for allegedly running with a gang by being seen around them in some manner? No trial or conviction, just an alleged association?

This is the third time in recent history New Zealand has attempted to reintroduce a firearms register. If it is approved this time, it will give authorities better information to trace hundreds of thousands of legally owned weapons, solves crime and slow the flow of firearms to criminals.

Will it though? States and nations with firearm registries tend to abandon them as prohibitively costly and underwhelmingly effective. The 237,000 gun owners are already on registry. Why the individual guns too? Criminal elements will never report their weapons, their ownership, or their illicit actions to the authority so what data is this giving New Zealand beyond a streamlined method for removing lawful (for now) arms from the general population.

New Zealand’s homicide rate was, until Christchurch, at a 40-year low (35 murders in 2017). Of these deaths, only one in ten involved the use of firearms. Stabbing or cutting weapons were responsible for a quarter of all homicides.

That sound familiar? Like the ratio of stabbing and cutting implements compared to rifle use in homicides domestically? Yet the reaction in NZ was to sweep aside all the lawful owners, who are shown by that very number not to be a problem, and just hope that the next terrorist follows the rules and doesn’t acquire a gun or explosives…

Great plan, Prime Minister. Stellar.

Previously lawful military style semi-automatics are less common in homicides, they made up only 7% of the total. Compared to shotguns (still legal) which are 33%. This all sounds like the gun control wet dream of systematically banning them all. If we had to take care of the guns that were only 7% of all murders, surely we have to take out the guns accounting for far greater ratios.

Between March 2018 and 2019, there were 3,043 instances where police recorded an offence that involved the use of a firearm unlawfully. More specific evidence suggests 97 instances in the decade from 2008 to 2018 where firearms were used, or threatened, against law enforcement officers.

Most firearms crimes are committed by people who are not licensed to be in possession of a gun. A minority of these crimes are committed by people licensed to possess firearms. All evidence points to the lawful owners being exactly that, lawful, and yet every new restriction targets them most drastically in an effort to influence by proxy through the tool, the gun, those who would do harm anyway.

What are the metrics that define these measures as successful? In what meaningful way can restricting lawful access to arms influence the unlawful use of arms?

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.