Some fairly large cracks are starting to show in the governments plan to prohibit firearms in New Zealand, and it’s starting to look like there is a lot more behind the scenes, and it it’s making sensible Kiwis wonder about how genuine the attempt is at creating a safer country.

The first big red flag is the condition on the buyback that only legal firearms will be compensated for. If we, as a country, have decided that we want to remove as many firearms possible because we’re told that will make us safer, then it should be obvious that the plan should attempt to maximize the number of firearms recovered. The current plan has no incentive for criminals to hand them over because they’ll get nothing for it. Immediately you’ve cut out a big portion of firearms that could be handed in, which are coincidentally the firearms you most needed to try and remove. It makes no sense whatsoever to come up with a policy aimed at making the country safer, but deliberately remove the incentive for handing in those most likely to be used in crime.

We also have to wonder about the compensation pricing scheme that has been touted as fair by Stuart Nash, the Member of Parliament working hard to make the prohibition a reality. If the goal is to entice holders of firearms to hand them over to the government, then why was KPMG (the consulting firm contracted by the government) given only 5 hours to put the price list for compensation together. It is very hard to defend the fact that of the roughly 1,400 hours since announcing the prohibition, only 5 of those could be set aside to figure out the numbers that will drive, to a large degree, the success or failure of the scheme.

On top of these facts, there is a very powerful emotional layer too. What’s been observed suggests the Prime Minister and MP Stuart Nash have no qualms about publicly displaying disdain for the firearms community, but also for some reason expect respect in return. We have the Prime Minister laughing at a press conference at the notion of those affected having an opportunity to make submissions on the new law, followed by a number of raids at gunpoint by police against licensed firearms owners without cause. On top of that owners are expected to hand over their property before even being presented with the compensation value, and now it looks like police will be destroying rifles right in front of their owners. You may not be aware, but most firearms owners (especially the legit ones) take very good care of their property. It has to be well oiled, clean and maintained to be at it’s best performance and many owners will have tens or hundreds of hours at a workbench taking care of their rifle – only to have it mangled right in front of them. Imagine you have a hand full of cash and you’re going to buy a car. The car has been restored, tuned, cleaned, and waxed and the seller is very proud. Now imagine handing over your fistful of cash, and as soon as the deal is done you drop a wrecking ball on the car in the former owners driveway. No problem right? after all it’s your car now so you can do whatever you want with it. And you expect the former owner to be okay with this too otherwise they’re just some kind of crybaby.

The actions taken in this matter by our “leaders” just aren’t lining up with the rhetoric, and it just might be down to good old fashioned money (or a lack thereof). We were told the ban would happen, even if it cost a billion dollars (which incidentally is not an unrealistic figure by many estimates), but the fact is that New Zealand doesn’t grow money trees with all that farmland and it’s probably not that realistic to be able to budget a billion dollars for the surrender of firearms. The figure started at a very optimistic 150 million, so to avoid borrowing too much against our future taxes the government really needs firearms owners to accept lower prices (under threat of arrest, which is literally extortion).

Many firearms owners have in the past worked closely with police, but the bad faith demonstrated at a national level since March has really broken the trust and willingness to aid police in any capacity for many. In the eyes of those licence holders, the police have literally been turned from allies into enemies, which is rather worrying. The government sees it as a win-win; either firearms owners accede to the prohibition and set a precedent for New Zealand’s acceptance of authoritarian leadership, or firearms owners resist and thus prove they were evil all along, which justifies raiding citizens homes and arrests.

It’s easy to look at this situation and go down some kind of conspiracy-theory black-hole, but one thing is certain; if the forced surrender is to go ahead, the government and police have taken positions that break trust and have acted in bad faith against law-abiding firearms owners. There will be no positive outcome, whichever way it ends up going down.