Gun ownership from the New Zealand perspecitve


January 7, 2006, 01:46 AM
I recently completed a 3.5 week vacation in New Zealand, mostly spending my time in the area around Christchurch, but also doing a 5 day, 51 mile hike (the Heaphy Track for those familiar) and going through wine country around Blenheim, and a drive around the West Coast of the South Island.

Much of my time was spent visiting with friends that I knew from my year as an AFS exchange student there nearly a dozen years ago. Amoung other things, the topic of guns and gun control came up probably 3 or 4 times as a major discussion, and a few more times as asides to other converstions.

The current gun laws in New Zealand, as I understand them, completely prohibit handguns except for collectors, and very few semi-auto long guns are allowed. They require licensing to own guns, and obtaining said license involves interviewing a number of people (including neighbors) as to your character and disposition. Forget about carrying a gun of any description unless hunting, and even transportation requires you to have all registration and license papers with you, as well as having the gun's action left open.

At least one good friend there was very happy with the essential ban on guns in spite of being what I would generally describe as libertarian. Another friend, when I suggested taking the backroads from Phx to the Grand Canyon the next time they visit, balked becuase it would involve driving through Prescott. Supposedly they have the highest per capita gun ownership rates in the country. He didn't want to believe me when I told him that for the 2 years I lived in that town I never heard any gunfire outside of the quarry that was the de facto shooting range, and I hadn't heard of anyone being shot that whole time. And yet, he'd think nothing of going to D.C.

In general, people that I've met there tend to regard guns as the province of hunters and farmers. They are not considered to be tools useful for self-defense, and the idea that they could be used to fight off a tyranical government seemed absurd to them (maybe it really is absurd, but I'd like to think otherwise).

Most seemed to think that the number of guns in America was a very bad thing, and more than one said that it was the primary reason they'd never emmigrate here. Of course, trying to be a polite guest I held my tounge that the restrictive gun laws would keep me from moving there, at least for anything more than a few years at the maximum.

A couple times there was an attempt to equate American gun ownership (and in particular CCW rates) to the problems in South Africa. My friends knew some (white) people who had left SA specifically because they felt they had to carry 24/7/365 in order to protect themselves from the criminal (mostly black) element that had largly taken over certain areas after Mandela's group took power. They didn't seem to want to recognize that the problem in SA was largly a result of the blacks being told they could have the white mans house when the apartheid govt was overthown. Instead, they discovered that was a lie, and combined with the corruption of the black govt and the breakdown of the economy the crime rate soared. The reason many people carry guns here in the USA is completly different, or at least the reasons for the crime we have are different and not a sudden change from what we had before.

Anyhow, I could probably write a lot more, but that will do for now. I'd appreciate your views on the subject, especially Spinner's and any other Kiwi's or recent visitors to NZ.

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January 7, 2006, 02:23 AM
What are the crime rates in NZ. I was there in '88 (I was only 10) I remeber was a lot of hostility towards Americans ie not serving us in several restraunts, my dad was spit on. sheep sheep and more uh oh yeah sheep. and the awful ferry ride from North to South.

January 7, 2006, 03:02 AM
Only crime I really heard about was a prostitute in Chch was murdered while I was there, some guy was being sentenced for the murder of a tourist, and some guy was arrested for cruelty to animals (true cruelty, not PETA every-bite-of-meat-is-cruelty). In general my impression is that crime is relatively low, but then again I stay away from most poor, urban areas no matter what country I'm in.

There's definatly some anti-American sentiment, but I've never seen anything like you described. Although a Canadian woman said she thought it was pretty prevalent on account of the palpable change in attitude (in her favor) when they found out she wasn't American.

Yes, there are lots of sheep. The NZ economy still relies to a significant extent on lamb exports. And yes, the ferry can be miserable - Cook Straights can certainly get rough at times. I've only taken it once, but it wasn't too bad that time.

January 7, 2006, 05:17 AM
The current gun laws in New Zealand, as I understand them, completely prohibit handguns except for collectors,

I am pretty sure you have got that wrong.


daniel (australia)
January 7, 2006, 09:02 AM
AFAIK NZ has quite a number of pistol clubs, for ISSF, IPSC, silhouette, Western Action and other disciplines, and thousands of pistols shooters. Pistols and certain military style semiautomatic and automatic longarms have to be registered, but can be owned by those with a clean record who obtain an endorsement on their licence, and suppressors are also quite legal.

According to Government figures there are between 700,000 and 1,000,000 firearms owned by the population of about 4 million, so you could hardly say there was an effective ban on them.

January 7, 2006, 06:41 PM
A forum member on TFL by the name of Death from afar is a New Zealander, so I'd imagine his posts would give a pretty clear indication of gun laws/ownership in NZ, FWIW.

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