March 23, 2019

Many Americans have expressed approval of the swift action by the New Zealand government to ban assault weapons in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. To the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein, this is "chilling":

Democrats celebrating New Zealand gun ban expose the Left's authoritarian impulses

New Zealand's decision to swiftly ban guns in the wake of Christchurch shooting has been drawing praise among Democrats — in the process revealing the Left's chilling authoritarian impulses.

... it has been absolutely chilling to witness how many American liberals and prominent Democrats cheered the actions of the government of New Zealand. Even as liberals often insist that nobody is talking about taking away guns, many applauded the decision of a government to quickly confiscate weapons from law-abiding citizens without any debate or legal arguments.

All gun control is "chilling" to right-wingers, but why is this being called "authoritarian"? The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines "auithoritarianism" as "any political system that concentrates power in the hands of a leader or a small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people."

But the government of New Zealand is "constitutionally responsible to the body of the people." New Zealand is a democracy. And the moves being made by the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are taking place well within legal bounds.

As CNN notes,

Ardern can essentially announce there will be new gun laws because she and her coalition -- among her Labour Party and the nationalist New Zealand First party and the Green Party -- control the Parliament. They still have to write and debate new laws, but since the one governing coalition controls the one house of government, there's a good chance they'll succeed.

Also, unlike in the US, there is bipartisan support for the new assault weapons ban. The opposition party in New Zealand has endorsed quick action to ban assault weapons. The brake on the actions of the New Zealand Parliament is that if voters don't like what they do, they'll pick a new party in the next election.

The legislation is not in place yet, but as The New Zealand Herald explains,

Legislation giving effect to the ban will be rushed through Parliament under urgency – Ardern expected the new law to be in place by April 11.

"Urgency" is an established part of the New Zealand legislative process:

The House of Representatives sometimes goes into “urgency” to make progress on business additional to what would be possible under the normal rules for sitting hours and progress of business.

A Minister may move an urgency motion for specified business, particularly bills. The motion can be moved without advance notice, and is not debated by the House, although the Minister must inform the House why the Government wishes to take urgency.

The website of the New Zealand parliament is inviting comment on the proposed changes (a brave move, in my opinion -- I'm sure there have been some extremely vile comments from the American gun community and the international white separatist community). This isn't being done in a ham-fisted way.

So "authoritarianism," in Klein's piece, means "stuff we conservatives don't like." We already that conservatives use the term "fake news" to mean "news stories we don't like." We know they use "socialism" to refer to "government policies we don't like, whether or not they decrease private ownership of the means of production." (To the right, everything a liberal wants is socialism. Hell, I'm old enough to remember the 1990s, when everything Bill Clinton wanted, even the very centrist stuff, was described as "socialism.")

So "authoritarianism" is another right-wing euphemism. Klein is just stomping his feet and demanding that the right have its way on everything -- if not, he'll fascist-bait his political opponents, and everyone on his side will nod in agreement.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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