Govt's offer to gun owners unfair, risks public safety

Thu, 20 Jun, 2019

“The Government risks creating a large black market by offering gun owners less than fair market value for newly-banned firearms and by putting political theatre above public safety”, ACT Leader David Seymour says.

“ACT believes that if the government confiscates private property it must compensate owners by paying them fair market value. The only way the Government will retrieve all newly-prohibited firearms, and keep the public safe, is if it offers owners reasonable compensation. It has failed to do that.

“There is now a serious risk that compliance with the buyback scheme will be low and that firearms will go underground. If a significant number of guns are not handed in, the Government risks creating a black market of illegal firearms without any regulatory oversight. That may be a more dangerous world than we had prior to March 15.

“The large public events at which gun owners will be made to hand in their firearms puts political theatre above public safety. The Government wishes to create a spectacle of weapons being destroyed en masse but, by taking the approach it has, there is no guarantee all guns will be handed in. This is the made-for-TV approach to public policy that has become Jacinda Ardern’s trademark.

“In response to the Government’s announcement, ACT is today releasing its draft firearms policy for public consultation. Our policy would bring firearms under a coherent regulatory framework rather than following the knee-jerk approach the Government has. It would treat the gun community fairly and make public safety the number one priority.

“ACT would extend the amnesty period and ensure compensation reflects fair market value and includes security, licensing costs, parts, consumables, and ammunition.

“Parliament treated gun owners with contempt during April’s legislative process. The gun community could have been welcomed as part of the solution, but legislating in nine days with scant regard for the usual process of public input and parliamentary scrutiny sent a message of disdain.

“ACT believes we need to have the gun community onside. We have an opportunity to treat gun owners fairly, and create a safer country, by presenting them with a reasonable offer of compensation. We must take that opportunity.”

ACT’s draft firearms policy for public consultation

ACT would:

1. Extend the amnesty period and ensure that compensation includes security, licensing costs, parts, consumables, and ammunition;

2. Reinstate the E endorsement category and expand it to include all recently-prohibited semi-automatic firearms (excluding .22 rimfire or smaller) and remove the ‘military-style’ descriptor. The vetting and security requirements would be based on the previously high standards of an E endorsement (prior to the law change), and could potentially be tightened further. The recently-created ‘exemption categories’ would be integrated into this category, including parts and magazines, and sporting/competition shooters would be allowed to apply;

3. Adjust the magazine limits to 7 for shotgun, 10 for all other centrefire, and 15 for rimfire;

4. Stop the shift towards a centralised firearms licensing regime, which reduces the local presence of Arms Officers and vetting personnel, and removes face-to-face interviews of applicants;

5. Stop the creation of a register for A category firearms;

6. Implement a law that clarifies who can and cannot own a firearm (e.g. members of violent gangs), and on what basis;

7. Hold an inquiry into whether home security requirements for A category firearms can and should be standardised;

8. Implement a law that affirms minimum sentences for criminal acts that involve firearms; and,

9. Hold an inquiry into whether the administration of the Arms Act 1983 should be shifted from the Police to an independent government agency.