“The Government’s recently released regulations for shooting clubs and ranges will be the final straw for many gun clubs and shooting ranges, meaning New Zealand loses safe spaces for proper firearms practice,” says ACT’s Firearms Reforms spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“Ranges are largely run by volunteers to provide a safe space for people to learn and carry out safe firearms practice. These regulations will add so many unnecessary compliance measures and extra costs to clubs and ranges it will force many to close.

“Regional council and local consents now need to be sought for ranges that have operated in some places for over 100 years. If one person rejects consent, the range is likely to close.

“Club members’ personal information has to be kept for 10 years on a committee member’s unsecured hard-drive. This is so it can be forwarded to Police after a statutory declaration as to its validity has been sworn by the volunteer.

“After the theft of the licensed firearms owners’ details in Auckland earlier this year, there is little faith that either the Police’s or committee’s database will be kept secure and if it got into the wrong hands, it would tell criminals who to steal firearms from.

“There are also new fees that clubs must pay in order to exist. The true cost hasn’t been detailed yet but any extra cost is a big ask for volunteer-run organisations and will just be another headache on top of all of the new regulations.

“Hunting and shooting clubs have long led the way in the promotion of safe firearms handling. Instead of ensuring more licensed firearms owners shoot with the supervision and support of a club, these changes will mean people go back to riverbeds and back paddocks to practice their shooting. Instead of a safe environment with knowledgeable volunteers.

“This is a massive bureaucratic overreach from the Police, targeting all the wrong people.

“I’m already hearing feedback from the community that club committees are looking at standing down, and clubs and ranges will close as a result. This effects an estimated 60,000 club members and an unknown number of non-club affiliated users who periodically use ranges to sight in rifles before going hunting.

“The regulations are a result of the Arms Legislation Act that was rushed through Parliament in June 2020. ACT was the only Party in Parliament to stand up for firearms owners and vote against the Bill then, and we will continue to stand up for firearms owners now.

“The Government needs to listen to clubs and ranges and dial back these regulations. ACT wants to prevent the demise of what was once lauded as the best firearms system in the world. We want people to have the ability to safely use firearms and access to clubs and ranges is a vital part of that.”

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Nicole McKee