Gun Owners Invoke NRA-Style Tropes In Response

Gun Owners Invoke NRA-Style Tropes In Response

Social media was a great platform for gun owners in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack and subsequent ban on semi-automatic military weapons. Media have looked into the influence of the American National Rifle Association in New Zealand. However, there is a strong home-grown gun culture online.

Protecting Our Gun

A range of New Zealand firearms communities Facebook pages have a variety of comment sections that reveal that many gun users are more extreme than what the gun lobby would like us to believe. Local gun culture has some disturbing norms

Some people posted on Facebook about the shooting to express shock and sadness. Concerned about the impact on firearms users. Some contributors to some sites discussed the livestream of the shooter. A few Kiwi Gun Blog Facebook users were curious about the firearms he use.

One Was Gun Post

He started with a shotgun and then used his AR15 to complete the task. While some contributors mentioned the victims, others emphasized the harm that firearms owners are likely to suffer. It was a very sad day. My condolences to the families. Unfortunately, licenced firearm owners are the only group going down. The sale of semi’s went through the roof just before the ban was announce. You should bury your semi’s before they taken from you.

Others were enthusiastically in agreement. A contributor responded to a post asking if proposed gun laws changes would require that we would need to surrender our ars firearms and replied, lose them in an safe place. Police are another example:

  • They will require a lot search warrants and a team with lots of people.
  • Another addition is the mixing of an American NRA trope and The Lord Of The Rings.
  • They will have my precious from my dead body. They will not get my precious.

It Is A Privilege, But Not A Right Gun

According to some, the second amendment to American Constitution is meant to mean that citizens have a legal right to bear arms. However, in New Zealand, gun ownership is consider a privilege and not a right. The government can ban semi-automatics of high calibre, magazines and related parts and demand that gun owners surrender their weapons.

The Arms Amendment Bill will heard by a parliamentary select committee this week. It is expect that the bill will become law by next week. There are limit exceptions, including those relating to pest control and theatricals. NRA discourses are use on New Zealand firearms websites. This may reveal confusion or a state denial about what is legal in New Zealand.

I prefer to see people who have the right to carry for their own self-defence. This tragedy could have been prevented if a few of these worshippers had carried [carry guns] in their possession. Although it is illegal in New Zealand to possess a firearm for self-defence, contributors often mention the idea.

On the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association’s Facebook page, we found additional NRA tropes. People don’t die from guns. People do. The conspiracy theorists also claimed that the shooting was a false flag event, specifically staged to discredit gun owners.

Firearms Owners Feel Threatened

The gun lobby quickly responded to Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of a ban on semi-automatics just days after the shootings at the mosque. The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, a firearms umbrella organization, posted a pastiche of Martin Niemoller’s poem on its Facebook page. It depicted firearms owners as having to defend themselves against oppression.

These discourses have surprised new contributors to the pages since the shooting. Unwittingly, one visitor posted that ban all MSSAs military-style semi-automatics, cars must be registered. Licenses are required for drivers why should guns? What civilian uses are MSSAs allowed to have?

Regular commenters did not like the suggestion that guns should only be register if their owners have been licensed. They responded: Stop terrorizing gun owners! Extremists are disgusting. The majority of comments are from men, as can be seen by the names. It is not surprising that 93% of New Zealand’s licensed firearms owners are men. Some pages contain remarks about Ardern and violence misogyny.

Only The Law Can Stop Threats

Although very few contributors actually threaten others, any threats were reject by the law and not because they were based on misogynistic or violent suggestions. Chris Cahill, President of the New Zealand Police Association, referred to radical gun lobby in a post. One commenter said that if they were radical they would be dead already.

These public Facebook pages in New Zealand did not contain any white supremacist sentiments or overt racism. However, there is not much evidence of Maori or other non-white people on these social media pages.

Senior gun lobbyists portray licensed gun owners as responsible and sensible the only valid voice on firearms. These online posts are a reflection of the culture of the group. Their voice has effectively stifled public debate and prevented changes to firearms laws for decades.

Paula Bennett, former police minister and opposition MP, appointed two gun lobby advisors who encouraged Bennett to reject 12 out of 20 recommendations in the 2017 bi-partisan select report on illegal guns.

A Ministry of Education reference group was establish in 2018 to provide guidelines for schools after a public outcry over military personnel bringing their weapons into schools. Initial members of the group were educators, government employees, and representatives from firearms organizations. Hera Cook, a health representative, was challenge and added to the group. She observed how firearms experts convinced the ministry to remove a list of schools that had guns.

The social media posts of gun owners show that not all firearms owners are sensible or reasonable. They respond to a tragedy by insisting on a nonexistent right to own firearms, and to be open to breaking laws that don’t suit them. It is time for ordinary New Zealanders to decide firearms policy.

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