In the wake of the Christchurch mosque murders, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earned international acclaim for her response to the brutal hate crime.
Her genuine compassion for the victims and their families made a difference both in this country and around the world. She sought to find ways to unite people of different faiths, cultures and ethnicities where other leaders might have used the hate crime to highlight differences.
She also received praise for acting swiftly on the issue of gun control. Within weeks of the mosque murders, the Prime Minister announced she planned to ban assault style rifles and similar weapons in this country.
The new laws were passed near unanimously – with just the Act party opposing – and again, there were international accolades for our Prime Minister for her decisive action.
Except the gun control laws haven't worked. Just as critics of the legislation predicted.
As the country reeled from the appalling act of brutality on a group of unarmed men, women and children who were in a place of sanctuary and worship, debate over the gun control laws became reductive.
If you weren't for the reforms, you were for the mosque shooter. If you were anti the gun buyback, you were anti-Muslim.
It became more about the message being sent than an effective way to prevent powerful rifles becoming weapons in the hands of people who wish to do harm.
Surely nobody, not even the Prime Minister, thought the gun buyback scheme would keep criminals from getting their mitts on guns. But she probably never thought it would have been so poorly supported.
More than 56,000 guns were handed in and nearly $100 million of taxpayers' money was paid to gun owners as recompense. But critics estimated the buyback scheme only managed to collect a third of the banned firearms in circulation.
How anybody dares to put a figure on the number of firearms in this country is beyond me. How on earth do we know how many rifles of any kind there are in New Zealand, when the criminal element in this country have supply chains to procure whatever they need – drugs, money and rifles?
In fact, since the gun law reforms were introduced by Parliament, gun violence has worsened as gangs with links to organised crime battle one another for control of the lucrative drugs trade.
In the past five years, 350 people have been left with firearm injuries, and while for the most part the gangs are doing damage to one another, innocent people have become collateral damage – among them, Constable Matthew Hunt, who was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop, and a South Auckland grandmother, Meliame Fisi'ihoi, who was shot dead at her home in what police believe to be a case of mistaken identity.
There are calls from city leaders for an end to the violence. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has written to the police minister and will meet Deputy Commissioner John Tims next week to discuss how best to tackle what has become a city-wide problem.
I can't really see either of those actions bringing about a paradigm shift in the way gangs operate. When people see the money they can make from selling illegal drugs to a willing population, they will take the risks involved in a criminal lifestyle.
They're not going to do a 9-5 job for even the living wage, when the gangsta life and all its trappings – the cash, cars, motorbikes, parties – seems so much more appealing. Well, until you find yourself in Middlemore Hospital with your testicles having been shot off – but that's a problem for another day.
The gun laws passed by this Government may have sent a powerful signal that an atrocity such as the one committed by the Christchurch shooter was abhorrent to New Zealanders. And it may have tightened up some loose legislation around gun procurement.
But it did not and has not made New Zealand a safer place, despite the very best of intentions.