Royal Commission undermines justification for New Zealand gun laws

New Zealand Prime Minister ArdernPrime Minister Ardern apologizes for government failure to stop terrorist

The Royal Commission undermines Ardern’s justification for New Zealand gun laws. In their December report about the 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, the Commission’s findings exposed the justifications for the Draconian firearms laws as baseless. Following the attack, Prime Minister Ardern promised, “Our gun laws will change,” going on to impose a wide range of new firearms restrictions. Ardern exploited public horror to expand government powers following the plans she and the police had started before the terrorist attack.

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in March 2019, Ardern responded by launching a “buyback” of scary-looking guns (i.e., “military-style semi-automatic” firearms) through an order in council. She did so, without waiting for the report from the Royal Commission of Inquiry she had set up “to investigate whether Public sector agencies had done all they could to protect the people of New Zealand from terrorist attacks and whether more could be done.” Ardern’s decision to focus on firearms was blatantly self-serving and was done despite official recognition that there was no evidence that banning semi-automatic firearms would have any effect on violent crime or gun deaths.

Ardern followed up the buyback with a flurry of new gun restrictions. Two “tranches” of firearms restrictions were hustled through Parliament, first in 2019, and then another in early 2020. The first tranche, The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and parts) Amendment Bill, banned a large number of semi-automatic and military-style weapons, such as those used during the Christchurch terrorist attack. The second tranche imposed a universal firearms registry among other radical changes. The new restrictions include reducing the 10-year firearms licence to five years; barring visitors to New Zealand from purchasing firearms; increasing the powers of police to take guns; requiring a firearm licence for purchasing ammunition and parts, and registering the country’s estimated 260 gun clubs. Applicants will now be required to include the name of a “health practitioner” as a reference who the police can consult before issuing a licence.

Police negligence

Ardern claimed that new laws were needed because the killer got his guns legally. The facts say otherwise. The Royal Commission found that police negligence allowed the terrorist, a racist environmentalist, to get his firearms licence. The Commission documented how Police mismanagement was responsible, “the guidance given by the New Zealand Police to licensing staff was inadequate, as was their training.” Had the police followed proper guidelines, the terrorist would not have been allowed to buy firearms. in short, better administrative practices were needed, not sweeping new laws. The Police reacted by demanding increased powers to fight terrorism.

In the words of the Royal Commission, “known risks and deficiencies in the firearms licensing system were not addressed.” Instead of focusing on improving police management, Ardern exploited New Zealand’s shock at the terrorist attack to blame easy access to firearms, particularly military-style semi-automatic rifles, in order to vastly expand government powers. Her promises made immediately after the terrorist attack to change the gun laws were backed by the Police and opposition parties.

Apologies without responsibility

Publication of the Royal Commission’s report in December forced both Prime Minister Ardern and the Police Commissioner to publicly apologize. Ardern apologised on behalf of the Government and directly to the Muslim community in New Zealand. Not to be outdone, the Police apologized for their failures in issuing a gun licence to the terrorist. Unfortunately, Ardern did not apologize for her personal responsibility for changing, perhaps weakening, the gun laws prior to the terrorist getting his guns. Nor did she apologize for introducing unnecessary and ineffective gun laws. Instead, she expressed regret for not expanding government sufficiently to “keep everyone safe.”

Prior to the publication of the Royal Commission’s report, Ardern had promised accountability, but afterwards, despite apologies, no one was held to blame. In addition to recommending vastly expanding powers of government agencies, the Royal Commission reminded all New Zealanders of their responsibilities for making the country “safe and inclusive” – primarily by promoting the benefits of diversity.

Everyone has apologized but no-one is to blame. Ardern and her government officials made it clear that the Royal Commission exonerated them, “The Royal Commission found no failures within any government agencies that would have allowed the individual’s planning and preparation to have been detected but did identify many lessons to be learnt and significant areas needing change. To date, no ministers resigned and no police personnel were fired. Despite singling out police incompetence, the Royal Commission makes excuses for police oversights and sloppy investigations. However, the Commission did blame Parliament for not providing sufficient funding.

The Royal Commission paints a picture of various arms of the state – health, security and police – each having fragments of information but no way to piece together the whole.,” Security and Intelligence Service Director-General Rebecca Kitteridge announced. The December report did not satisfy everyone. Both the Muslim community and the firearms owners organizations such as COLFO were disappointed.

The Royal Commission worked hard to find excuses for government failings. Even going so far as to abandon the possibility to accurately identify applicants who are “fit and proper,” in the NZ legal terminology. The Royal Commission speculated there was no way to predict the terrorists violent actions from the information available—then or now. Despite finding many signs that suggested the applicant was violent, the Commission asserted that the Christchurch terrorist could only have been stopped ‘by chance’. Despite this admission of government powerlessness, the Royal Commission did not abandon the principle that the government is responsible for public safety. Indeed, the Commission recommended vastly expanding the powers of police and security agencies.

Concluding comments

The Royal Commission’s finding that poor administration of existing legislation allowed a violent terrorist to arm himself critically undermines Ardern’s justification that the sweeping new firearms laws brought in following the attacks in Christchurch was required.

The government claimed the buyback was a success, but the Auditor General report was less positive, finding the total cost of the “buyback” was close to $200 million (NZD), including more than $35 million (NZD) to administer as well at least $120 million for compensation for the surrendered firearms. Other New Zealanders questioned the buyback’s success. Despite setting up over 600 “local collection events,” the buyback failed to collect even a quarter of the newly prohibited firearms.

It is too early to determine if the new firearms laws have had any impact on violent crime or terrorism. The buyback ended in December 2019, and the new gun laws were brought in in 2020. Only time will tell if massively centralizing the powers of the New Zealand government will provide safety and security.

Despite the Royal Commission revealing the government’s failings for the terrorist attack, the Commission maintained its commitment to strong government. Ardern claimed that safety was the responsibility of the government, “Our duty is to keep everyone here safe. We have failed here and questions will be asked.” Citizens have no role in providing safety; even if the government admits it has failed to do. New Zealanders are being treated as mothers would deal with young children.

The Canadian government would be wise to learn from this fiasco. Instead of imposing a “buy back” of semi-automatic “assault-style” firearms, the government should focus on strengthening border enforcement and anti-smuggling efforts, improve efforts to reduce suicide, particularly in the North, reforming prisons, and cracking down on violent criminals.

18 Comments on "Royal Commission undermines justification for New Zealand gun laws"

  1. Ty Mr. Mauser and your team for updating this imperative information. Shared.
    My condolences to you for the loss of a friend and colleague, as well as being a centerpiece not only in the firearms community but to Canadians across this great country. ” We will never forget ” Dennis R Young RIP

  2. Arden’s over-reaction, failure & demonizing lawful gun owners mirrors Trudeau’s poor actions. Somebody has to pay! So the beleaguered NZ &CDN taxpayers will pay for their respective governments bungling of events, accomplish nothing, and make criminals out of lawful gun owners instead of punishing these gun-abusing miscreants.
    Typical Liberal policies.

  3. Ardent exploited public horror for radical draconian and communist law changes.

    • It certainly looks like she had an agenda ready to go, and then exploited the public horror to implement it. The Royal Commission tried to whitewash the government’s failures, but the truth seeped through the cracks.

  4. Unliek Australia, the NZ Police have released (very quietly)a breakdown by brand and model of what was confiscated. A lot of 22 rifles and less SKS guns than were ever imported.
    The dataset is here. It is not easy to find and is not linked on the police web page.
    They have PDF summaries

    Despite all “Military style semi autos” being on a special license edorsement, the confiscation didn’t get all of them and ended up short of the 14,000 registered. the refgistry is known to be wrong.
    It was the stated aim for the Green Party, who were a member of the government coalition, to ban firearms in previous election manifestos. They just never had the opportunity or excuse before the Police let a foreign terrorist get a gun license.
    Now the first confiscation has been done, the screws are continually being tightened, with increasing red tape, and further confiscations. Most recently, pump action centre fires and shoulder stocks for pistols. Pistols have been controlled in NZ since 1920, so who knows what this was supposed to achieve. The Broomhandle Mauser is a weapon of evil.
    Ammunition of certain types, like tracer, AP (or steel core) and others have also been banned, without compensation.
    Any firearms parts need a mail order approval and a fire arms license to buy or own. Even a simple screw or a spring that could have come from a ballpoint pen.
    Lies renewals are taking 6-8 months, with some over 18 months. If your licenses expires while they are sitting on it, you have to get rid of your guns, as otherwise you are in illegal possession, even if you applied in plenty of time.
    The idea is to make it impossible and so difficult to comply that people give up> The UK has 150,000 shooters with a 60m population, so are politically irrelevant. NZ has 250000 with 5m population so they need to reduce that to force through final confiscation

    • Thanks for the analysis and for the links. Traditional New Zealanders are getting the short end of the stick. I’d appreciate any future information you care to share.

  5. New Zealander here. I have no firearm so why do I care?

    Becuase I’m sure that some gun laws and licensing can’t be bad.

    But I’m damn sure that if I walked around for an hour or two with some money in my pocket I could borrow a firearm without a legal paper trail.

    So. If I was to become an active terrorist… It would be that route I would take.

    Having the police act on pictures of me having 1080 poison which was actually dumped from governments own helicopter programme of aerial poison spreading. Well. NZSIS imagination went wild there…

  6. If they claim there was no way to find a would be terrorist like Tarrant prior to his act how is it that a month prior to CHC they stopped a student from committing an act of terrorism. The student who had recently converted to Islam was going to carry out an attack at the Nelson boys college. He was found out by his Internet search history. Yet Tarrant was walking down the Internet super highway with neon signs and a mariachi band… And they missed it… OrI should say, was allowed to proceed. Total false flag.

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