New Zealand gun owners continue to buck 'buyback' scheme

July 9, 2019


Matthew Hoy

New Zealand gun owners have until Dec. 20 to turn in their now-illegal scary black rifles and, if the initial numbers are any indication, most are likely to buck the gun "buyback" scheme.

Almost 1000 guns have already been handed in to police, and another 8000 have been flagged for surrender through the online registration process.

So, that's a total of 9,000 guns that have been self-reported for eventual confiscation. How many guns are illegal now? That's the rub. While there are an estimated 1.5 million guns in the island nation, some of the now-banned weapons require a Category "A" license, which means they weren't required to be registered. Without registration, the firearms are untraceable.

No matter what the denominator is representing the number of banned guns in New Zealand, 9,000 in the numerator is indicative of mass civil disobedience in response to the "buyback" scheme.

Money, money, money

One potential stumbling block that has potentially put more Kiwis on the "will not comply" side is the miserly way the New Zealand government has gone about pricing what they will pay for the illegal firearms.

Today's announcement set out a buyback plan based on a price list developed by police with advice from KPMG which determines a "fair market value" for various firearms models. Gun owners will receive a percentage that value depending on the quality of their firearms; 95 percent for guns in new or near-new condition, 70 percent for those in average condition, and 25 percent for those in poor condition or inoperable.

It would also pay up to $300 to cover the cost of modifying prohibited weapons to make them lawful.

That's not nearly good enough for weapons that are arguably more valuable now, since there aren't going to be any new ones allowed.

A spokesperson for the Council for Licenced Firearms Owners, Nicole McKee, said some owners of "average" firearms were happy with the figures, but many more were disappointed and angry.

"Most of the feedback we're receiving from our membership is that some of the higher-end firearms have been grossly miscalculated, and especially the parts - most of which are brand new - are being offered back at 70 percent or less of their value.

"Magazine values are also well off the price mark."

She said there was no price being offered for many other items related to firearms.

"Safes, security and consumables that were all legally purchased, they've not been given a price ... and of course there's now ammunition in there that has been banned and there's no prices for that either.

"They [the government] need to look at the bigger picture here and see that what they've done is actually trying to not rip off the community but the community are feeling very disadvantaged and a lot of them are telling us they are being ripped off," she said.

So, what's the alternative?

Gun enthusiast and former gun owner Gerard Dobson of Wellington said the plan was unfair and the price the government was offering was a "joke".

He said he would abide by the law, but others may bury their guns.

"There will be thousands of firearm enthusiasts or sporting shooters will say 'well, stuff you, I'm going to wrap them in plastic and bury them somewhere'."

Belated lawsuits

New Zealand gun owners are now talking about potential lawsuits to force the government to pay a fairer rate for the firearms.

In a separate case, gun collector David Craze, who is also a hunter and competition shooter, said he is considering a lawsuit seeking proper compensation for what he described as “property confiscation.”

Under the government’s buyback program, he would receive about 30% of the actual value of his collection of dozens of firearms, amassed over 50 years, he said.

He had intended to sell some of the firearms as part of his retirement plan, he said, describing his collection as an “investment.”

Others have engaged in far more heated rhetoric.

Paul Clark, owner of New Zealand Ammunition, one of the country’s largest ammunition companies, said he believed many owners would attempt to hide their weapons.

He added that if owners are not allowed to make their case through the justice system, “the only alternative is revolution.”

Seeing that the confiscation law passed with only a single dissenter in the New Zealand parliament, it's unlikely that Clark's revolutionary instincts are widely shared.

It appears that despite some holdouts, that New Zealand is going the way of its mother country, Great Britain, where soon all you will have to defend yourself with from criminals is fresh fruit.

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