One of the oldies but goodies for politicians in the United States who are pushing for “common-sense gun safety laws” is something called a gun buyback. The idea is that the government would ban a particular type of firearm, usually, a class of weapons called “assault weapons.” The government would sweeten the measure by offering to “buy back” the weapons from people who own them.
Recently, in the wake of a mass shooting at a Muslim place of worship in Christchurch, New Zealand banned what it termed “military-style assault weapons” and offered to “buy back” those sorts of weapons. CNN reports that six months after the measure was enacted, 56,000 firearms have been turned in to authorities. New Zealand is also moving to a gun registry system in an effort to take prohibited forms of firearms out of circulation,
The Washington Examiner suggests that the New Zealand gun buyback effort has to be considered a failure if the idea is to rid the country of semi-automatic “assault weapons.”
“The deadline for the mandatory gun buyback program was Friday. The New Zealand program successfully led to the compensated confiscation of 51,000 of the targeted firearms. But as the left-leaning Guardian newspaper reports, this is out of an estimated 170,000 such guns currently in circulation. And there are still a minimum of 1.2 million legally owned firearms in New Zealand on top of that.
“This means that many people ignored the demand that they turn in their guns and trust the supposedly benevolent government to protect them from themselves.”
The Examiner goes on to note that the sorts of people who obey a gun buyback law tend not to be the kinds of people who might be inclined to use a weapon to shoot up a public place or, indeed, use a firearm in the commission of any kind of crime like a robbery or murder. Thus, the article concludes, if the goal was to tamp down on gun crimes, the New Zealand law was a failure.
The article also suggests that the failure of the New Zealand gun buyback law has some lessons for American politics. Democratic presidential candidates favor one kind of such law or another. Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a “voluntary” gun buyback law. Beto O’Rourke, who recently ended his campaign for the presidency, even went so far as to propose that the police and perhaps the armed forces would conduct house to house searches for forbidden firearms, a provocative proposal that helped to end his political hopes.
The matter gets worse when one notes that unlike the United States, New Zealand lacks a 2nd Amendment that mandates the right to keep and bear arms. New Zealand never had a tradition that suggests that private ownership of firearms is the last ditched guarantee of civil liberties. That fact suggests that more Americans would choose to disobey a gun buyback law were ever to be enacted in the United States.
To illustrate the futility of gun buyback laws, the Central Virginian notes that over 100 local and county governments in Virginia have declared themselves “2nd Amendment sanctuary zones.” The provisions mean that those local and state government would decline to enforce any gun control measures that the incoming Democratic majority in the Virginian state legislature would care to pass. Some local officials vow to fight such measures in court.
Gun control zealots in the Old Dominion are not pleased by these acts of defiance.
“One lawmaker, Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, proposed a bill that would terminate the employment of any officer who willfully refuses to ‘perform the duties of his employment’ by enforcing laws, which would include gun control laws. Another lawmaker, Del. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, suggested that the governor might have to use the National Guard to enforce gun laws if local governments refuse.”
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has also threatened that local governments in Virginia would “face consequences” if they do not comply.
As a practical matter, using the State Police to enforce gun control laws may not be possible considering all of the other duties that the organization is obliged to carry out. The idea of calling out the National Guard is explosive and dangerous. The prospect of armed confrontations between guardsmen and local law enforcement and private gun owners is considered bad enough. Some have also suggested that many guardsmen, gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters themselves, would refuse any order to enforce gun confiscation laws that Richmond would care to pass.