The gun confiscation debacle and subsequent leaking of the details of those who handed back firearms is going to significantly shape the next election. There are 270,000 firearms licence holders. If we allow for a few of them being too young to vote we can safely assume 260,000 eligible voters hold a firearms licence. Voter turnout at the last election was 79% so around 200,000 of these people voted out of a total of 2.6M who cast a vote – that’s 7.7% of voters which is more than gave their tick to NZ First who eventually decided our government
It is fair to say that very few of those people are going to give their vote to any of the parties who supported the rushed and botched legislation which led to the firearms confiscations. This rules out them voting for either Labour, National or NZ First. It is also likely that the 60,000 odd who didn’t vote at the last election will do so this time as they now have a burning political issue that directly affects them, and they will want change. That’s around 10% of the vote, it will bring 12 MPs to the house, and based on MMP elections to date is enough to decide who governs. Also, none of these figures takes into account the unlicenced spouses, family and friends of firearms licence holders who enjoy shooting with them and whose voting decision will probably be influenced by the loss of their recreational options so the actual figure could be much higher.
ACT and New Conservatives being the only viable options outside of the three main parties will have done these sums and will be chasing this voting bloc for all they can over the coming 12 months. However, I don’t think either of them is taking the right approach.
ACT, with winning Epsom again will be able to benefit from any increased vote they get, but I’m not sure how well most of their policies fit with the shooting community, and thus they may struggle to capture these voters’ interest.
New Conservatives are going to need over 5% of the vote in order to make any difference, but are still in their infancy and developing their policy portfolio so they don’t have much to offer at present either.
Many of the firearms fraternity are environmentally aware. They are never going to vote for our watermelon Green Party, but they would put their support behind a blue-green party that supports their right to own and use firearms.
ACT has a dearth of environmental policy, and what little they have published is more aimed at business and is going to hold little appeal to the firearms community.
The New Conservative environmental policy is mostly a collection of sound bites, predominately focused on calling out the ETS and ZCB. Again this is unlikely to resonate with the firearms community.
Now is the time for New Conservative to go balls out and develop some wider environmental policies, recruit some party-list members with good environmental credibility, and fill the blue-green niche that has always been vacant in our political landscape. That would probably have the added bonus of poaching the less settled voters from the Green Party as well helping to ensure that they get past the 5% threshold and can shape our next government.
Elliot – if you’re reading, please give this some thought.