Mike Hosking: Gun reform the latest Labour-NZ First headache

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Mar 2020, 1:29PM
Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters appear at odds on gun reform. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike Hosking: Gun reform the latest Labour-NZ First headache

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Mon, 9 Mar 2020, 1:29PM

You've got to wonder how long Labour can hold their nerve and patience before something blows. 

The virus has helped to the extent that the focus is off the workings of the government. All the stuff that would be bogging them down in election year is playing second, if not third fiddle, if not any fiddle at all.

Shane Jones managed to cut through the health obsession to register some noise around his Indian comments. But that aside, I can assure you in different circumstances the fact New Zealand First are now holding gun reform up would be major news.

If for no other reason than there are large swathes of people who feel they have been badly treated by this government.

It would also be news for the sheer politics of this. New Zealand First have clearly worked out their support to this point has damaged them badly in the polls, and they stand to see some of that support wander off to ACT, who have stood firm on guns and zero carbon, so look more impressive to gun owners and farmers.

The Police Association didn’t do themselves a lot of good either by calling on New Zealand First and National to swing in behind the reform. Because as good a job as the police do, what most of us have worked out by now is that the people they deal with, the criminals, aren't exactly lining up for registration for handing in their semi-automatics, or for doing anything much legal at all.

And that is what has let this whole exercise down so badly.

A person like me who has no vested interest in guns, doesn’t own one, will never own one, couldn't really care less if they're licensed or not can see as clear as day, that  what the government were trying to do and what they have done, bares little or any resemblance to the events of Christchurch.

Yes, we have a lot of guns, but no, we don’t use them to kill people. The statistics show it, we looked them up. If you were trying to link weaponry to murder you couldn't do it. The statistics are remarkably consistent over a very long period of time.

Even as gun ownership went up, the murder rate didn’t. We are not a murderous country, and certainly not with guns. So the government reform rounded up large numbers of farmers, hunters, and pest controllers and involved inconveniencing them with bureaucracy.

The fact 56,000 guns got handed in tells you all you need to know in a country of well over a million guns, they didn’t touch the sides. And although, technically, there are fewer guns around, a lot of those guns have been replaced by new guns.

No one has been murdered, but politically the anger remains. Step in New Zealand First to milk it, and go for votes. As for Labour, it's embarrassing given March 15 is this Sunday, and the aim was to have it sorted by then.

Add this to Jones, the SFO mess, the CGT, the zero carbon farmers carve out, and the feebates, and a lot of Labour and Green members have got to be pretending things are just peachy, knowing the opposite is true.