Fri. Apr 3rd, 2020

Fishing and Outdoors

NZ's Independent Voice of Fishing, Hunting & Outdoors

New Zealand’s changing gun laws

4 min read
NZ's changing gun laws

The six-month amnesty and buyback ends on 20 December 2019. Photo: brian.ch licensed under CC BY 2.0

With all of the recent gun control talk, we have heard little from any of the politicians other than Leader of ACT New Zealand David Seymour on removing the guns from gangs.

I feel like the law-abiding, legitimate, responsible firearms owners are being targeted by politicians and police who should be taking on the gangs and confiscating their firearms.

None of the top four parties is any better than the other which is why why we need the smaller parties such as The Ban 1080 Party. If we can encourage these parties to do this and have their candidates stand in respective regions, only then will we see change.

It seems like the current government is using their power irresponsibly, as the buy-back scheme plainly speaking, seems like it is gun confiscation. Gun control is rarely about public safety and nearly always about control of the citizens. A citizen’s ability to own and use firearms for recreational purposes should be a choice just like buying a vehicle of choice.

When we no longer have this choice, our society is no longer a free democracy.

I have heard of cases where armed police have turned up in the middle of the night carrying semi-automatic ‘bushmaster’ weapons, interrogating people on their political status and seizing private property without compensation or warrants.

Many firearms will not be handed in, as I feel this has been undemocratically forced upon us and there is no full reimbursement for the confiscated property.

In many cases, law-abiding families have had firearms for generations. The history of such family heirlooms is too great, having been brought back from various wars, and they present no danger to anyone. However, the government has stated that more bans will happen after confiscations have finished.

The government’s firearms confiscation is worthy of all firearms being paid out in full compensation and the assurance made to the legal owner that it will be made unusable from the day it is handed in.

I think all firearms taken should be shredded or destroyed before the owner’s eyes to get proof of its destruction.

There is growing opposition from New Zealand’s pro-gun groups, which has complicated efforts to round up the now-banned firearms under a confiscation programme, and many lawsuits are threatened.

I think the compensation rates are far from being fair and they warn of a possible spike in black-market sales.

The government, meanwhile, is faced with a sobering set of challenges over how to enforce the new law.

If they wanted AR15 and semi-automatic firearms banned then, that is where they should have stayed focussed except they are now confiscating almost every semi-automatic weapon regardless of calibre or use.

Many farmers, gun collectors, shooters, and hunters will now be out of pocket by hundreds of dollars.

So far, it has been reported that about 700 firearms have been voluntarily surrendered. And now the people are talking of boycotting the collection events and organisations such as the NZ Deerstalkers are suggesting that gun owners wait until 19 December—the day before the amnesty ends.

Meanwhile, the government is moving ahead with plans to further tighten gun controls. Measures could include a national firearms registry and a more comprehensive vetting process for gun ownership*.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners (COLFO), New Zealand’s leading gun lobby, also announced that it intends to challenge the buy-back programme through the courts by “taking legal action, likely to be by way of a class action.”

Gun collector David Craze, who is also a hunter and competition shooter, said he is considering a lawsuit seeking proper compensation for what he described as “property confiscation.”

Many owners are likely to attempt to hide their weapons as they know the jails are unable to cope. The low level of voluntary hand-ins so far was due in part to people “waiting to see the levels of compensation on offer” before details were revealed.

Mike Clement, New Zealand Police’s deputy commissioner of national operations, acknowledges that many law-abiding citizens through no fault of their own now find themselves in possession of firearms that are now illegal but he noted that once the amnesty period expires, there is no excuse for holding onto weapons.

The police estimate that there are 1.2 million to 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand and have written to every known registered firearms owner to inform them of their obligations.

However, some of the banned weapons, including AR-15 rifles, fall into Category ‘A’ system, which means they were not required to be registered in police databases and as such will be impossible to trace and are unlikely to be confiscated by police because they don’t know of their existence.

Had the government gone about this whole ‘gun control’ confiscation differently and acquired the support of the gun enthusiasts instead of sticking it to them, most would have supported the hand in of unnecessary AR-15s and the like.

*Ed’s note: As on 22 July, NZ government announced a second round of gun reforms. Read more.

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