• Richard Prosser

The Great Gun Buy Back that will Never Be

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

This first appeared a few weeks ago as a guest post on David Farrar’s Kiwiblog.


One or two people complained about the length of it; I can’t do much about that. Accuracy requires detail, and the mental capacity and attention span of individuals is largely a matter of genetics and thus beyond my control. It's only about 4,000 words and it only took me a couple of hours to write.

I’m reposting it here in the wake of the first gun “buy-back” event in Christchurch.

This has been hailed as a great success.

Look I’m sorry, but even as political propaganda goes, this is ludicrous.

Around 36,000 firearms licence holders live within the Christchurch Police District. About 900 pre-registered for the Riccarton event. Fewer than 200 actually showed up.

To call that anything other than a complete and unmitigated disaster is simply lying. Not spin, not dressing it up, not playing on the positives; it’s a lie.

Most, if indeed not all, of the official line relating to firearms following the Mosque massacre in Christchurch, is similarly lies. It needs to be called out as that. And I am.

The turnout – or rather lack of it – for the Riccarton event was entirely predictable. I predicted it on June 26th. So for the benefit of those who are still struggling to understand why, here it is again.

So the great gun buy-back is underway. It isn’t going to work. Let me tell you why.

To make it easier for some people to understand, I will attempt to use words to paint a picture. I know that many anti-gun types are probably more au fait with crayons, but bear with me.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we’re not talking about firearms.

Let’s imagine that some deranged individual in a non-specified country commits a heinous crime using a bicycle. And let’s imagine that the bicycle is a cross bike.

In response, the country’s outraged Government decides that such bicycles are unsafe in the hands of the general public, and announces that they are going to ban most of them.

Mountain bikes draw particular ire, because they look a lot like cross bikes. Black mountain bikes with big knobbly tyres are especially demonised, because they look aggressive and scary. Also, they have lots of gears, just like cross bikes.

Seriously, some of these machines have as many as 27 gears! Outrageous.

There’s no need for such bicycles in society. No-one needs to have more than, say, three speeds on their bike. Why, in the old days, bikes only had one speed, and that worked perfectly well. Our fathers and grandfathers grew up with single speed bikes. And solid tyres, come to that. They knew how to ride properly, of course. Too many modern bike owners are just wanna-bes terrorists. The only reason for wanting to own a bike with more than three gears is to commit crime, or for some reason to do with compensating for having a small penis. If you need more than three gears you shouldn’t be riding.

There is lots more dumb banal commentary along the same lines from the uninformed and the self-righteous, but you get what I mean.

Furthermore, it’s too difficult to keep them safe. Most bicycles in the hands of criminals have been sourced by way of thefts from law-abiding bike owners. In fact they’re not, but that’s according to the President of the Police Association of the country in question, who is a serial deliberate maker of demonstrably erroneous statements and shouldn’t even be a cop.

They must be banned.

So the Government announces that all bikes with more than three gears are now illegal. 250,000 law-abiding bike owners, people who have always kept their bicycles safe, and never used them to break the law, are now effectively criminals.

The Government will therefore “buy-back” specified bicycles from their current owners. It isn’t a buy-back, of course, because the Government never owned them in the first place, but this Government has neither the wit nor the honesty to be able to either acknowledge or admit that. It is a confiscation. A Government with even a shred of moral decency would simply own up to that.

Compensation will be paid. How this will be calculated, and what level it will be set at, are yet to be decided. In the meantime, bike owners are instructed to keep their bikes locked up safely, not to use them, and to register their bikes with the Police, ahead of further instructions on how they are to be handed in.

In the future, it is advised, all bicycles will need to be registered. This is because Government insists that registering bikes will somehow magically prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals.

Government insists that this is so in spite of all the experience from overseas showing very clearly that such registers simply don’t work. Indeed, the country where the crime happened used to have such a register, which was done away with some thirty years ago, entirely because the Police at the time recognised its ineffectiveness in terms of solving or preventing bicycle crimes, and because the time and resources it tied up were hampering the Police in carrying out their other duties.

All this is decided and enacted in less than a week, because the Government in question is very keen to signal virtue to other progressive Governments around the world, and most importantly, to get it done quicker than the Australians did.

There is no due process or proper consultation, and the advice of actually knowledgeable people from respectable bicycle owners’ groups is completely ignored. This Government is on a crusade. Facts and logic are not going to be allowed to get in the way of virtue signaling.

It is announced that the Police will be tasked with coordinating the hand-in scheme. Police of course have nowhere near the time, personnel, or resources needed to carry out this undertaking, but the Government boxes on regardless. Police simply do not have the people or facilities needed to accept, safely store, or dispose of an influx of a million or so bicycles from 250,000 owners, in six years, never mind the six months slated for the operation.

Government says that the Defence Force will be available to assist Police. It appears to not matter at all to the Government, that decades of running the military down, means that they are in precisely the same boat.

After a few weeks, Government announces it’s preferred option for the process of handing in now-illegal bicycles.

A series of “swap meet” type events will be held at various venues around the country, at places such as local halls, schools, and the like. Bicycle-riding Police will guard these venues while the process of bicycle surrender is carried out.

At the swap meets, unqualified contractors who have received a week’s training from the Police will assess each bicycle as it comes in, and determine a value for it. The determined value will start at somewhere between 70% and 95% of the bicycle’s actual market value. Why those numbers? Apparently, just because. However, it will automatically go down from there, because of course all the bicycles will have been ridden.

Once handed over, the bicycles will be disassembled, and the parts placed in a suitable container. Only then will the owner be given a chit confirming the determined value for compensation. It may well be as low as 25% of the investment that the owner has tied up in his or her bicycle. By then it will be too late to protest, of course, because the bike is now in bits in a container, and in any case, it has become illegal for the surrendering owner to possess it anymore.

Dissatisfied owners can appeal; but the appeal process will cost anything up to half the value of the bike in question, and if the appeal is not upheld, the compensation offer will be forfeited.

Furthermore, costly accessories that the owner has purchased for his or her bike, which are now not of use and thus cannot be sold to anyone else, such as lights, up-rated tyres, shock absorbers, speedometers, padded seats, etc, are not covered by the compensation scheme at all.

Neither are stocks held by businesses. Bike shops are closing, staff are being made redundant, business owners are going broke; but this is apparently just tough.

Businesses are told they can simply return their stocks to their overseas suppliers. The Labour Government seems to genuinely not be aware that globally, commerce doesn’t work that way. You buy something, it’s yours. Change your mind? No, they don’t want it back, and no, they’re not refunding the money you’ve paid for it. This is perhaps not surprising given that not one member of the Cabinet of this non-specified country has any experience in business, or, indeed, in the real world of real work or real life.

Back at the swap meet, a trickle of people are arriving to hand in their bicycles. The Bike-equipped Police guarding the venues are all looking very smart with their neatly pressed uniforms and lots of shiny equipment. All of them are riding brand-new bicycles that have lots of gears, big chunky tyres, and plenty of menacing-looking sticky-outy accessory bits and pieces on them.

The swap meets naturally require lots of Police to be present. This is only sensible. However, it means that Police resources elsewhere in the town in question, for any given swap meet, are rather thin.

On the other side of town, a naughty but clever group of criminals have decided to stage a diversion. A few of them get on their bikes, which are black mountain bikes with knobbly tyres and really loud bells, and ride right into a Bank. A few more of them start pulling wheelies in the car park, and running into pedestrians.

In response, Police are forced to divert some of their people away from the swap meet and send them to the Bank.

As soon as they have gone, the majority of the naughty-but-clever criminal group duck out of hiding, and sneak into the swap meet venue through the back door. This is easy for them, because Police incompetence means the door has been left wide open. They clean out the containers of bike parts, and disappear into the back streets.

Why do I think the above will happen? Because if I can think of it I’m damned sure the Hell’s Angels can too, and the rest is merely a product of the facts and numbers of Police resources. Oh, and the example of their level of competence that they’ve already shown us, of course.

Most bike owners choose not to attend the swap meets. Instead, they decide to bury their bikes in moisture-proof containers behind the shed, or wall them up inside the gib in the garage. The bikes won’t pose a risk to the general public when so concealed, but then they never did when they were locked up in the bike safe of a law-abiding, Police-vetted, licence-holding bike owner either. They are however more likely to be accessible to the naughty-but-clever criminals, because if Fred the Baddie knows that Joe the Good Guy Bike Rider had a bike that is now illegal, all he has to do is go digging behind Joe’s shed when Joe is out, and there’s a good chance he’ll find it. It would have been much safer if it stayed locked up in Joe’s steel bike safe. Joe had never committed a crime with his bike and was never going to.

You might suggest that Joe should have handed his bike in as required by the new law. Maybe he should; but knowing he’s only going to receive a fraction of what it’s worth, do you really expect him to? To be effective, laws have to take account of human nature and national character. If they don’t, then people will simply ignore them.

The lack of ability to comprehend the above blunt reality is a defining feature of idealists. There’s so much air in their heads that there’s no room for facts. Sadly our current political leaders appear to fall entirely into this category.

Some people will be allowed to continue owning bikes with more than three gears. Professional riders will be able to apply for a licence to own a 10-speed. The licence will cost them, of course. It will be a fee to continue owning and riding a bike that they already own and have already been approved for. 18, 21, and 27-speed bikes will be completely illegal for anyone to own - apart from the Police themselves.

Seriously, you couldn’t make this shit up. Unfortunately I didn’t have to. What I have just described is exactly and precisely the situation that is being applied to licensed owners of lawfully-held firearms in New Zealand. All I have done is change firearms for bicycles. The rest is the same, down to the letter.

See this is what I think the crayon-eaters don’t get.

What if we weren’t talking about firearms - what if we really were talking about bicycles? Would that make it different? If so, how, and more importantly, why?

The issue here isn’t about firearms or bikes. It’s about Government confiscation of private property without adequate compensation. It’s about a complete disregard for due process and respect for democracy. If this really was about bicycles, the crayon-eaters of the anti-gun lobby probably would understand it. The crayon-eaters of the media might even get it. I don’t actually hold any real expectation that the crayon-eating Ministers of the New Zealand Government Cabinet would get it; but I live in hope.

But it is what’s pissing off a quarter of a million law-abiding firearms licence holders.

We don’t like it. That much is a given. We can’t see the justification for it. In truth there isn’t any. I’m not about to argue that point any further, however. It’s done and it will stay done until we have a change of Government.

I personally have no time whatsoever for the current Government. In fairness I didn’t have much for the last one either, or the one before that; but I accept, as I have to, that it is a product of the democratic choice of a majority of New Zealanders. That’s the thing about democracy - if you embrace it, you have to accept what it delivers, even if you don’t like it.

I don’t know who or what that changed Government might be, or when it might come about; National are completely on board with Labour, the Greens, and Winston First on this. None of them would do anything differently in Government.

What pisses us off most of all is the lack of adequate compensation. As a comparison, when land is compulsorily acquired under the Public Works Act, the baseline for compo is set at twice the market value.

So it should be for any Governmental confiscation. You don’t agree? Why not? Would you feel differently if this was something that affected you personally? If so, bloody shame on you. That’s a disgusting attitude to hold. It’s the kind of attitude that engenders a ‘f**k you’ response in those who are affected.

It is actually encumbent upon you, crayon-eaters, to recognise right from wrong here. That is your duty as citizens. Everyone must be equal before the law. That is what sets us apart from less advanced societies.

There is a very thin boundary between civilisation and anarchy. It rests on people acknowledging the rights of their fellow citizens. People who have lawfully owned firearms are entitled to such recognition, even if you yourselves don’t have any interest in shooting sports. If you don’t feel the need to respect our rights, why on earth would you expect us to respect yours? My property is mine, you know; I have obtained it legally, and paid good money for it.

Ponder this - if the Government decided to ban microwave ovens, would it be OK, in your mind, for them to come and take your own nearly new one away, giving you half what you paid for it in return, with no effective right of appeal? What about if they’re building a new motorway, and they come and take half your house and section? Would it be OK for that to be confiscated, against your will, and for them to give you 25% of the value of it, and threaten to lock you up if you didn’t like that?

You might be a member of, say, an outdoor group. You might own an expensive backpack, tent, alpine parka, and binoculars. The whole rig might be worth $1,000. If I’m the Government, and I come along and ban them, and confiscate them, and give you $250 and tell you to bugger off, would you expect me to share your outrage? If so, why are you not prepared to share mine?

What needs to happen, if this thing is going to work, is this.

Compensation needs to be set at twice market value, as determined by experienced people in the trade. No quibbling. Just pay it.

That includes accessories like telescopic sights. Some advanced optics can run to $10,000. Did you know that? If not, why not? Surely you’re not making something your business without understanding it first?

Reloading supplies. Gun safes. Carry cases. Ammo boxes, range finders, laser sights, cleaning kits, etc ad infinitum. All of them expensive and none of them any use any longer. Pay them out. All of them, at twice the market value. Don’t question, don’t argue, just hand over the money.

Compensation also needs to include businesses and all their costs. That means stock on hand and in transit. It includes freight costs. It includes compensation for loss of earnings on business that cannot now be conducted.

You will probably need to set a special levy on all taxpayers. That’s what Australia did. It took them 12 years to pay for the Port Arthur confiscations.

It is going to be expensive. Very expensive. No one knows exactly how many firearms are involved; but in my very well-informed opinion, the oft-quoted guestimate of 1.2 million long guns in private hands, of which maybe 500,000 are now illegal, is woefully shy of the mark.

In truth the number is probably closer to 2.5 million with at least a million now being persona non grata. At an average $2,000 a pop, that’s $2 billion straight off the bat.

Add in trade losses and you can stick another billion on that. Then there’s the cost of setting up a register, which stung Canada $2 billion in NZ dollars before they abandoned it. I’ll be generous and say, because of relative population size, that’s another $500 million down the pipes. Make no mistake - gun registers don’t work. They have never worked, anywhere. New Zealand will not be the first to make one work. We had one, and it didn’t work. It won’t work again. It will fail. I know I’m hammering this point, but that’s so you’ll take notice. You have been told, over and over, by people who know what they’re talking about, that a gun register is doomed to fail before it even starts. Even the Police agree. So you’ve been told, OK?

This. Is. Because. Only. The. Law. Abiding. Will. Register. Their. Guns.

Criminals. Won’t.

And yes, all taxpayers will have to put their hands in their pockets. Why?

Because, my dear crayon eaters, this is an action initiated by the Government that you support, and it is an action that you condone. As such you do have to take responsibility for paying for it. If you’re not prepared to pay for it, what makes you think you have any kind of right to insist that it happens? Who do you think should be paying for your personal preferences and choices? The example of the proposed register above is a case in point. You have been told it isn’t going to work. If you insist on pursuing it, that cost is on you.

So prepare yourselves for a final bill somewhere north of three-and-a-half-billion dollars. And while you’re at it, prepare yourselves for the reality that it will achieve absolutely nothing at all in terms of preventing crime or increasing public safety or stopping another massacre. You’re about to flush $3.5 billion down the dunny just so Jacinda Ardern can look good to the progressive lefty twats of the UN. And don’t smirk about that, National, because you have been 100% complicit.

Three and a half billion is a lot of pay rises for nurses. It’s a lot of special needs teachers. It’s a lot of hip operations. It’s a good few hundred kilometres of new roading.

So know, those of you who support the Government’s changes to the gun laws, know that you also support these changes in funding priorities. Know that and accept responsibility for them. Know at the same time that all these changes will have no effect whatsoever on crime or public safety. You are agreeing to spending this money in this way, knowing that it is destined to achieve nothing at all.

And we all know that the Government doesn’t have three and a half billion in spare cash sitting a piggy bank, so sorry, but more tax it is, for everyone.

See this is all part of growing up. Getting all petulant and saying things like “why should I pay for the shooters’ choices” and “well they’re illegal now so they just need to do as they’re told and if they lose out financially then that’s just hard cheese” is fairly primary school stuff. Because you see it isn’t the shooters’ choices that have led to this - it’s yours, you the anti-gun folk. Your choices - your political choices, I mean by that - have brought this situation about.

If of course you’re part of the MSM or social media commentariat that’s maybe understandable, because you’re probably not long out of primary school, or perhaps even still there. But in the adult world, taking responsibility for the costs and consequences of your choices is something that’s required. It’s what we teach our kids. You’re not special or different in that regard.

Let me recap. The changes to New Zealand’s gun laws following the Christchurch massacre are pissing off a great many law-abiding New Zealand gun owners.

We’re pissed off because we are being penalised for something we didn’t do.

We’re pissed off because we are being blamed and demonised for something for which we’re not responsible.

We’re pissed off because the approach being taken by the Government does not and will not address the problem, nor will it do anything to improve public safety or prevent a repeat of the Christchurch massacre. The problem is criminals. We are not criminals. Criminals are not addressed by these changes. These changes only affect people who have not and will not ever commit crime in the first place.

We’re pissed off because both the Government and the media continue to believe the demonstrably erroneous statements being made by the President of the Police Association, and because the Commissioner allows him to remain as a serving Police Officer despite the fact that he is a demonstrated serial deliberate maker of demonstrably erroneous statements.

We’re pissed off because the only reason Brendan Tarrant (and yes, I am going to speak his name) was able to get a firearms licence in the first place was because Jacinda Ardern signed off on changes to the law that allowed him to slip through the cracks, and because Police incompetence didn’t pick him up on the other side of those cracks.

We’re pissed off because democracy and due process have been sidelined. This is what we expect from the likes of North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, and other totalitarian states. It is not what we expect from New Zealand.

But most of all we’re pissed off because you are confiscating our expensive and legally owned property and not paying us what it is worth. That is called stealing.

So you have 250,000 pissed off people, who are not going to hand in their guns unless and until you pay a fair price for them. One way or another you are going to have to grow up and realise that - either before the fact, or because of it.

Either way, respect for the Police has been irrevocably damaged and greatly diminished in the eyes of a quarter of a million law-abiding New Zealanders. And they’re the ones with the guns.

You could choose to just dismiss this as yet other rednecked rant from Prosser, who is pissed off because he’s had his precious guns taken away. Well, yes, I am pissed off, and yes, I have had to hand in one of my guns. The rest of the affected ones can all be made legal.

The one rifle that can’t be made legal, cost me about $2,200 in today’s dollars. It’s probably still worth about $1,700. I’ve taken the scope off it, bringing it down to about $1,400, and handed it in. The list published by the Police indicates that I will get $1,050 back for it. Maybe. Sometime.

But beyond that, no, it doesn’t affect me. I’m living in Britain now, and don’t currently have any plans to come back. New Zealand has changed for the worse, and I can’t see it getting better anytime soon. I do wish you all the best, but I’ve given it my best shot (no pun intended) and my days of trying to improve things via political means are over.

I might humbly suggest you take the things I’ve said on board, because I’m right about them. Being right is what I do.

Or you could just go back to eating crayons, which seems to be about the limit of your intellectual capacity.

Richard Prosser


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