In their effort to take guns out of the hands of gangs and organized crime organizations, New Zealand police have implemented a unique new program to ensure compliance with the nation’s latest gun ban. They’re saying, “Please.”
Gang and organized crime leaders have shown little interest in handing in their guns which, oddly, perplexes Police Commissioner Mike Bush.
“I think it’s fair to say they have a different approach than law-abiding members of the public. They’re very reluctant to be part of this [amnesty],” he said.
With less than two months until the amnesty’s deadline, New Zealand gun owners are similarly “reluctant” to hand over their legally-purchased property to the state.
Compliance with New Zealand’s gun-back scheme sits at just 18 percent. This puts them on pace for a 30 percent compliance rate when the amnesty period ends in December, something Newsweek laughably frames as “a modest but tangible success for policymakers.”[i]
This is worse than even the lowest estimate of Australia’s buyback in the late 1990s where, according to a comprehensive study by criminologists Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, compliance ranged from 40 – 80 percent, depending on whose estimate of the number of guns you used.[ii]
When 70 percent of New Zealand’s licensed firearm owners refuse to comply with the law, how can you call it anything other than a colossal failure?
Speaking before the Justice Select Committee, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement insisted they were making progress with the nation’s gangs and organized crime syndicates. He told the committee police had identified 115 key individuals in 37 gangs in New Zealand and that police met with 53 of these crime leaders “to discuss” surrendering their illegal guns.
“We know it’s difficult for people to hand in their firearms but we want to make it as easy and safe and, uh, the best experience it can possibly be,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush reiterated.
In New Zealand, neither career criminals nor licensed firearm owners are interested in this “experience.”
The former have no interest in complying because these criminals regularly use their guns to defend their illegal enterprises.
The latter have no interest because they have committed no crime, so why should they surrender their legally-owned and legally-acquired property?
It’s a question for which no politician has a legitimate answer – not in New Zealand, not in Australia before it, and not in Canada today.