New Zealand gun ban prompts digital protests impeding police efforts
New Zealand police have become inundated with bogus reports filed by people abusing a website established as part of the country’s effort to round up newly banned assault weapons, a top law enforcement official said Friday.
An online form created for New Zealanders to notify authorities about firearms they intend to surrender was used by more than 1,000 people since being established as a result of last week’s mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, said Tusha Penny, an assistant commissioner for the national police force.
“Unfortunately, some people have decided it is a good use of their time to misuse the form and submit ‘fake’ notifications to hand in weapons,” Ms. Penny said in a statement. “While these individuals may be short of productive work to do, Police are not. In the current environment this is unacceptable.”
“These vexatious forms are a huge waste of Police time and resources which could be put to better use,” she added.
Attempts to access the form Saturday through both New Zealand and U.S. internet connections returned a message that said “the ability to submit forms from overseas is not enabled.”
New Zealand Police did not immediately return a message requesting further details.
Military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines will be outlawed in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday, six days after an armed rampage at two Christchurch mosques resulted in the deaths of 50 people. Police have arrested a 28-year-old Australian man subsequently charged with murder in connection with the massacre.
Hosted on the New Zealand Police website, the form was created for gun owners “to notify New Zealand Police of your intention to hand in firearms that are currently in your possession.”
Gun rights activists opposed to the ban urged others online to submit bogus forms as “a public act of civil disobedience.”
“No doubt bigger battles [lie] ahead,” blogger Luis Valdes wrote for “The Truth About Guns” site. “But in an interconnected world, people half a planet away are attempting to stand by 250,000 beleaguered Kiwi firearms owners who are being blamed for the actions of one crazed person.”