As of last week, only around 700 weapons had been turned over.
Once again, responding to a horrendous crime by inflicting knee-jerk, authoritarian restrictions on innocent people proves to be an ineffective means of convincing people to obey. Specifically, New Zealand's government—which also stepped up censorship and domestic surveillance after bloody attacks on two Christchurch mosques earlier this year—is running into stiff resistance to new gun rules from firearms owners who are slow to surrender now-prohibited weapons and will probably never turn them in.
Officials should have seen it coming.
"Police are anticipating a number of people with banned firearms in their possession won't surrender them," Stuff reported at the end of May, based on internal government documents.
As of last week, only around 700 weapons had been turned over. There are an estimated 1.5 million guns—with an unknown number subject to the new prohibition on semiautomatic firearms—in the country overall.
Traditionally relaxed in its approach to firearms regulation, and enjoying a low crime rate, New Zealand has no firearms registration rule. That means authorities have no easy way of knowing what guns are in circulation or who owns them.
"These weapons are unlikely to be confiscated by police because they don't know of their existence," Philippa Yasbek of Gun Control NZ admitted. "These will become black-market weapons if their owners choose not to comply with the law and become criminals instead."