The final numbers for the New Zealand “buyback” confiscation are now available. We’ll begin by taking them at face value. As of December 21, 2019 (the day after the “buyback” ended), they claim:
- Collected: 51,342 newly banned firearms.
- Modified to comply: 2,717
- Total: 54,059
That’s 22.5% compliance based on the previous estimate of 240,000 affected (newly banned) firearms.
Now we have an official number for Cat-E Military-Style Semi-Automatics: 15,037. That’s an interesting figure because the previous estimate was 14,500. Why they had to estimate the number of registered firearms was always a mystery.
My guess is that some folks turned in registered Cat-Es of which the government had lost track, suggesting their registry is in no better shape than the US National Firearms Registration and Transfer Records (NFRTR). There are going to be a lot of Cat-Es they don’t know about; far more than the 1,228 they have documented.
There were 9,532 MSSAs turned in. Supposedly another 4,277 are “in progress.” That seems dubious, but even so, they didn’t make the deadline.
Another 1,228 MSSAs are unaccounted-for, scheduled for “follow up,” or 8.2% outright noncompliance. In actuality, it’s 36.2% noncompliance — that they know of.
Now let’s examine those numbers a little more closely. First, some monthly trends:
- September: 24,073 total; average 8,024/month (3 months)
- October: 8,586 turned in. 32,659 total; average 8,165/month (4 months)
- November: 4,677 turned in. 37,336 total; average 7,467/month (5 months)
- December 12: 6,186 turned in. 43,522 total; average 7,689/month (5.7 months)
On December 12th, they were on track to slightly improve the number of turn-ins, but compliance was only 19% based on the 240,000 affected firearms estimate.
Between December 12th and the 21st, the government abruptly lowered the estimate to as few as 50,000.
And then they released the final numbers:
- December 12 to 21 alone: 7,820; average 23,697/month (0.33 month)
- December: 14,006 turned in. 51,342 total; average: 8,557/month
They’ve somehow managed to increase turn-ins to meet the new lower estimate, and Police Minister Nash says, “I believe we’ve got the majority of these guns in.”
But the money doesn’t add up. Nine days before the end, the New Zealand Police claimed to have accounted for 43,522 firearms at an average, per firearm, program cost of NZ$2,056.51. In nine days, they suddenly account for 51,342, at an average cost of NZ$1,990.55. Turn-ins rose, per gun payout dropped.
- Collected: 43,522
- Paid: 41,392
- Program cost: NZ$89,503,303
- The per gun averages are NZ$2,162.33 (paid), and NZ$2,056.51 (overall collected)
12/21/2019 (nine days later)
- Collected: 51,342
- They no longer say how many were paid for.
- Program cost: NZ$102,198,651
- Per gun average: NZ$1,990.55 (overall collected)
The difference between 12/12 and 12/21 is:
- Collected: 7,820
- Program cost: NZ$12,695,348
- Per gun average: NZ$1623.45 (overall collected)
That’s an odd and extreme drop in per gun average. Either 7,820 beaters suddenly got turned in during the final nine days (remarkable, considering the monthly average was only 8,557), or the NZ Police invented a bunch of beaters to punch up their compliance numbers.
The former seems unlikely; if someone was going to turn in beat-up, low value guns, they could have done that any time. Last minute turn-ins would more probably be higher value firearms that the owners were reluctant to surrender.
At the previous per-firearm average of NZ$2,056.51 I would guess the NZ$12,695,348 actually represents no more than 6,173 firearms, leaving 1,647 unaccounted for. But that would bring the “buyback” total to 49695, which is still short of the 50,000 what the government needed to claim victory.
That mystery 1,647 — the difference between NZP’s claim and my calculation –abruptly boosts the turn-in numbers from 49708 to comfortably over the lower end of their shiny new “official” estimate of 50,000-170,000, so they can choose to believe announce they succeeded in gathering up all those nasty guns.
Frankly, since 3,026 of those alleged 7,820 firearms were Cat-E MSSAs, I would have expected the average payout to increase above the NZ$2,056.51 average, not drop to NZ$1,275.91. Through December 12th, MSSAs accounted for 14.6% of turn-ins. In the final nine days, MSSAs were 38.7% of turn-ins. More expensive MSSAs, less money paid. So I doubt they got even the 6,173.
Or the numbers are legitimate and there was a last minute rush of low or unpaid junkers. It seems unlikely.
A total of 33,619 people played their game, and turned in firearms. Thanks to the confiscation database breach, we learned that 38,000 people had registered to do so.
That means 11.5% of those who even signed up did not comply in the end, but we’re to believe there was a last minute rush to comply?
I have a little trouble believing that so many folks waited until the last minute to turn in beater guns. If that were the case, I would expect the final number of hand-ins to be over 38,000, not lower.
It looks more like the New Zealand Police inflated the firearm numbers to make compliance look better, coupled with the new estimate for what constitutes “success.”
I think we’ve found some real “ghost guns.”