Thursday, 18 June 2020

Govt’s record on gun reform a tale of failure and division

“The Government’s record on gun law reform, culminating today with the passage of the Arms Legislation Bill, is a tale of failure and division,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Arms Amendment Act’s nine days of political theatre scapegoated and alienated 250,000 law-abiding firearms owners. Instead of unifying the country in the wake of Christchurch and welcoming the firearms community to be part of the solution, Jacinda Ardern’s Government legislated in nine days with scant regard for public input and parliamentary scrutiny, sending a message of contempt.

“At the very time we should have been celebrating the institution that represents our free society, we discarded it.

“The resulting gun ‘buy-back’ was a total failure, driving tens of thousands of firearms underground and creating a larger black market. The Auditor-General found no evidence that the ‘buy-back’ made New Zealand safer.

“The Arms Legislation Bill continues to blame law-abiding firearms owners for the actions of a single foreigner and the mistakes of Police.

“A firearms register will be costly and inaccurate. Overseas experience suggests the cost will blow out. The Auditor-General found the E Category register was inaccurate by up to 15 percent. A new register will be no better. Criminals and gangs won’t register their firearms, making it almost meaningless. A register is one leak away from being a steal-to-order list for criminals and gangs.

“The bill imposes new red tape on clubs and ranges. Hunting and shooting clubs have long promoted firearms safety. Instead of ensuring more licensed firearms owners shoot with the supervision and support of a club, people will be less likely to form clubs and some existing clubs may even disband. This will be a complete own goal for firearms safety.

“The doctor-patient relationship has long been a privileged one. The bill suggests doctors speak to Police if a person with a firearms licence faces mental health challenges. This provision will needlessly stigmatise mental health challenges for no gain. Firearms owners will be less likely to visit their doctor.

“If the Government was serious about firearms law reform, it would wait until the Royal Commission reports back on 31 July, consider its recommendations, and start again. Waiting for the Royal Commission is now even more important after reports Police didn’t follow the rules when vetting the Christchurch terrorist. The Government is instead rushing poorly-made law through Parliament in the lead up to an election.

“The firearms community cannot trust NZ First after it sold them out and supported a gun register. National’s advocacy for the firearms community has been mixed. Only ACT has stood up for the principles of freedom, personal responsibility and democracy by holding Parliament to account and opposing both of the Government’s tranches of gun legislation.

“Licensed firearms owners have been scapegoated by our Parliament, and had their rights stripped away based on the actions of a single foreigner and the mistakes of Police.

“ACT is committed to amending the Arms Act again in a future Parliament to restore the dignity of licensed firearms owners with sensible gun laws.”