Politicians have to change NZ firearm laws

When an Australian comes to New Zealand to massacre 50 people in part because of the ease of obtaining semi-automatic weapons (often referred to as ‘military style’) due to our relatively lax firearms laws, then it is fairly obvious that our politicians have to do something to tighten up our firearms laws. The Prime Minister started our laws will change. The only real question is what the changes will be.

(Note that the terms ‘firearms’ and ‘guns’ are frequently interchanged. Technically the biggest problem is with rifles, which are not guns, but they are commonly included in the general ‘gun’ term).

There have been arguments here at Your NZ against changing firearms laws, and while David Farrar supports law changes there has been a lot of opposition to changes argued at Kiwiblog – see I support gun law changes.

Some valid concerns are raised, but most arguments are similar to what has come up in debate over US gun laws, and I don’t think they stack up.

Allowing people to have easy access to firearms like in the US, and to carry arms in public (to places like schools, churches and mosques), does not prevent mass killings there. To the contrary.

There are two main things being discussed here – the availability of semi-automatic weapons, which make it easy to fire (and kill) rapidly, and the lack of a firearms ownership register or database.

Firearms database

We used to have to register firearms, but this requirement was dropped in the 1990s. It has been claimed that it is now too late to have a register, but I don’t buy that. The vast majority of firearms owners are licensed and are legally required to notify the police of any change of address. It would not be difficult to contact all license holders and require them to register all their weapons.

Arguments are made that that would not cover illegally owned firearms, which is correct, but that is not a solid argument for registering legal weapons.

Semi-automatic firearms

There are some valid arguments for retaining the use of semi-automatic weapons for some purposes, particularly pest control like goat culling and possum control. Most hunters don’t use semi-automatics – they aare a waste of time and bullets for most game shooting.

There are alternatives for controlling pests – where I live there has been a major campaign over the last two years that has significantly reduced possum numbers, without the use of firearms. As a result I have hardly used my semi-automatic .22 for some time.

Australia clamped down on semi-automatics after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, and they have survived without them, proving they are not needed.

There could be a valid argument for banning high velocity semi-automatics and still allowing the use of .22 rim fire semi-autos for pest control. But I don’t think it would cause any insurmountable problems banning all semi-automatics, and it would avoid any chance of loopholes.

Other arguments

In the Kiwiblog comments here – I support gun law changes – there are a lot of arguments that are common in US gun debates that are ridiculous.

It doesn’t take much to realise that in general more guns = more risks and more deaths.


I’d be happy to hand in my semi-automatic, and either get a .22 that requires reloading, or ditch having a a firearm and use other methods of possum and pest control.

In Australia they had a Government buy back scheme.

There has been reports here that there has been a rush on semi-automatic weapon sales in New Zealand since the Christchurch massacres due to talk of tightening the laws. Someone on Twitter suggested that in any buy-back scheme receipts proving purchase prior to the Friday murders be required.  This would unfairly penalise long time owners of semi-automatics who don’t still have receipts.

I think that we must make meaningful changes to our firearms laws. These must be carefully but quickly considered. A recent review could easily form the basis of quick firearm law reform.

Other discussions:

Stuff:  Why do members of the public even need military-style semi-automatic rifles?

Stuff: Christchurch shooting: Taking aim at gun owners

But there are changes that can and must be made.

Police, academics and others have long sought to implement a meaningful firearm register that would give us a better picture of the real number and type of the weapons in this country.

We know we have about quarter of a million firearm users; we have no idea of the weapons they own or even the numbers.

That would be a reasonable first step; a moratorium on the sale and importation of semi-automatics would also make sense.

Newsroom:  Why changing gun laws isn’t that simple

NZ Herald: Trade Me still selling hundreds of semi-automatic guns

NZ Herald:  Why PM Jacinda Ardern could follow Australia’s gun lead and ban semi-automatic weapons

ODT: Kia kaha, Christchurch

The relative ease in which Tarrant was able to legally own high-powered firearms has raised alarms, prompting Ms Ardern to promise changes to our guns laws. This cannot come soon enough.

NZ Herald: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expected to announce gun law changes following mosque shootings

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to announce a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and tighter controls on gun ownership following a Cabinet meeting tomorrow that will focus entirely on the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Ardern has been firm that the country’s gun laws will change following the attacks on two mosques on Friday in which 50 people were killed.

I think ikt will be difficult for any politicians or parties to argue against sensible changes.

It must happen. Some good must come of the Christchurch mosque massacres, and it’s hard to see any real or insurmountable down sides to banning semi-automatic weapons.

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27 Comments

  1. Reply
  2. duperez

     /  18th March 2019

    While there might be a chance of having a reasonable debate about changing gun laws there is virtually no chance of conclusions being reached which leave everyone satisfied.

    Not many hours after the Prime Minister said laws would change, someone had her as the ‘far left dictator for saying she was going to change guns laws without a debate.’

    The notion of personal wishes having to be curtailed or limited in any way by community desires is anathema even if it is for safety and security. Hearing even the notion of it from the mouth of the “commie princess” makes it doubly worse.

    Reply
  3. Finbaar Rustle

     /  18th March 2019

    Fire arms laws are not the reason 50 people died in the Christchurch tragedy.
    Gun law reform is at best a temporary distraction
    a vague hope in what seems a hopeless situation
    as people look for a cause which they can then fix.
    Grasping at straws where no straws exist.
    The truth is there is no answer.
    Even if there were no guns in this country at all
    there are many other ways to attack and hurt people.
    The narrative following mass murder episodes reads like a script.
    The same people say the same things and nothing changes.
    I fully expect the same script to be followed here and
    within a fortnight or less we will have all moved on and
    be back talking about CGT.
    How you stop an entitled young man living in a rich country
    deciding he must kill 50 people to save his world is
    a challenge beyond any understanding.
    So lets talk gun law reform… it’s easier.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  18th March 2019

      so you think he could have killed or injured a hundred people without any armaments involved?

      Reply
      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  18th March 2019

        Yes. Poisons, car bombs, arson, driving vehicles /planes into crowds schools hospitals shopping malls.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  18th March 2019

          on that basis…there are many road fatalities where people are wearing seatbelts.

          The law on wearing seatbelts is therefore …unnecessary.

          Reply
          • Finbaar Rustle

             /  18th March 2019

            No it means seat belts in cars provide a degree of protection only.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  18th March 2019

              ‘Gun law reform is at best a temporary distraction’- not a degree of protection at all then?

            • Finbaar Rustle

               /  18th March 2019

              True gun reform won’t stop mass murder.

            • Blazer

               /  18th March 2019

              what restrictions in law are absolute?

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  18th March 2019

          Without the actions of Abdul Aziz, he would have killed far more.

          Poison gas would be hard to obtain and administer.

          Car bombs would have to destroy the whole building. Even the IRA didn’t manage a massacre on this scale with car bombs.

          FR ignores the fact that he wanted to kill Muslims, not the general public.

          Reply
    • Griff.

       /  18th March 2019

      Your cynicism is touching FR.

      The cry’s of those who dont want change will be ignored.
      We have had enough inquiry’s into the gun laws already we dont need more.
      What we do need is a reaction that ignores the very small minority of gun nuts wanting their toys in favor of the wishes of the majority of us who dont want the threat of indiscriminate death those toys represent .
      There is no place for weapons optimized only for killing humans among civilians in a advanced society such as ours.

      Reply
      • Finbaar Rustle

         /  18th March 2019

        There is no cynicism in my comments.
        Only a clear analysis of the facts.
        Unlike others I feel no emotion about the Christchurch episode because it is so common. Such events are reported every week some where in the world to the point where I know the script off by heart.
        Young man/men run amok killing etc etc.
        Country stunned.
        Calls for gun reform.
        The same people have, are and will continue to say the same things and
        while a few gun laws may change this will not address let alone resolve the issue.
        Because the issue is not about guns.
        It is about how young men become so obsessed with a perspective that they see mass murder as the only way to save what ever world they believe is in danger.
        In this case a privileged Australian male believing his country’s ethos is in grave danger by non white immigration goes to another country to kill 50 people identified as the enemy.
        This deluded logic will not be resolved by limiting semi automatic weapons
        I have no answer to the entitled deluded young man mass murder syndrome.
        Does anyone?

        Reply
        • Mother

           /  18th March 2019

          Yes, I do. Will you listen?

          “Unlike others I feel no emotion about the Christchurch episode because it is so common.”

          If you feel no emotion Mr Rustle, you should not be here. This is selfish disrespect. Why did you start up on YourNZ?

          This event is a first in our country and the discussions we have are vital. If you are too tired, then why are you here?

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  18th March 2019

          Many of the mass murderers who came to my mind reading that are not young men. They’re middle-aged.

          Reply
  4. Andrew

     /  18th March 2019

    “Most hunters don’t use semi-automatics – they are a waste of time and bullets for most game shooting.”

    This is true for large game. I have no issue all at all making all access to MSSA’s and semi-automatic “rifles” that can take an external magazine restricted. I would not include a .22 rimfire semi-automatic in this list though.

    I would have an issue, however, if they banned semi-auto shotguns. Auto loading shotguns are by far the most commonly used shotgun for shooting water fowl. Every year we cull up to 1000 geese in and around the Waikato area. Being stuck with a side by side would make this next to impossible without large scale poisoning.

    Reply
  5. Zedd

     /  18th March 2019

    There are echoes here, of the USA ‘Right to bear arms’.. which as far as Im aware does NOT exist in Aotearoa/NZ

    btw; listening to ZB, you would think that some folks think that owning a MSSA, makes them 6 inches taller & perhaps their penis longer; WAKE UP !!

    I dont think Jacinda wants ‘to take away all your guns’ (echoes of MrTs election rhetoric against Hillary). Lets just listen to her rather than all this ‘jumping to conclusions’; mass buy up reported at Guns shops, over the weekend ?!!

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  18th March 2019

      one caller even said he ‘totally disagreed with EVERYTHING Jacinda was saying’.. this is not about her making ‘political points for Labour’ as it sounds like he was alleging 😦

      Gun laws are 30 years old & like the Drug laws are ‘passed their useby date’ & in need of a change

      Reply
    • Zedd

       /  18th March 2019

      btw; I noted; the pic of the ‘alleged shooter’ standing in court (between two guards).. he may be suffering ‘the Short-man syndrome’ ?! :/

      Reply
  6. Prohibition doesnt work!

    A Cat AR15s are a joke, they are so modular that its too easy to upgrade them, treat any magazine fed weapon, excluding rimfire (ie .22 cal) and bolt actions, as E Cat due to the ease of getting a monster sized magazine on to it. See here for a 50 Rd mag for AR15,
    bigger capacity than what the military use for fully automatic weapons…..
    https://www.xproducts.com/product/x-15-50-round-ar-15-high-capacity-magazine/

    Reply
  7. Griff.

     /  18th March 2019

    New Zealand mosque attack: Jacinda Ardern urges gun owners to hand in weapons – live

    Prime minister says cabinet has made a decision about gun law reform but details are yet to be announced
    LIVE Updated 1m ago
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2019/mar/18/new-zealand-mosque-attack-police-search-homes-in-nsw-in-connection-with-shooting-live

    Reply
  8. Patzcuaro

     /  18th March 2019

    Here is the nub of the problem, it is too easy to turn an “A” class semi automatic to a “E” class semi automatic. And it is only illegal when you clip the magazine into the semi automatic.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/111373872/the-gun-law-must-be-changed-to-restrict-assault-weapons

    “So a person with a basic A category licence can buy a de-featured AR15 in 5.56 mm – typically for around $1500. Then they can go into their local gun shop, or any number of online stores, and buy a pistol grip or big capacity magazine, and the moment they fit it to their AR15 if becomes E category.”

    “The real nonsense of the situation is that Brenton Tarrant was not breaking the law by being in possession of 40 and 60 round magazines for his AR15, nor by loading them. That only happened the moment he clicked them into place and started shooting.”

    I’d like to see the politicians to explain that to the families of the victims.

    Reply
  9. Ant Corke

     /  19th March 2019

    Very interesting how the media has whipped up the public into a frenzy over firearms, whilst no mention has been made of banning far right extremist groups.

    Semi automatic firearms are a tool that are currently used by pest controllers and DOC rangers to erradicate pests such as rabbits and wallabies that infest the central south island, feral pigs and goats that destroy important endangered species habitats throughout New Zealand. The goverment’s commitment for the Battle for the Birds and Preditor Free 2050 requires firearms that have sufficient firepower to ensure high productivity. A blanket ban would hamper this. There are laws, such as the E Category which could be widened to restrict easy access to these firearms without removing a very important conservation tool.

    Careful thought is required in drafting new legislation not knee jerk reactions from the ill informed.

    Reply
  1. Politicians have to change NZ firearm laws — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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