The heat on the gun laws at Select Committee hearing

RNZ:  Select committee hears out feedback on gun law reform

Emotions ran high during a select committee seeking to change the country’s gun laws today, with opponents taking aim at the speed at which the bill is being rushed through Parliament and supporters saying it can’t come soon enough.

The Finance and Expenditure committee has received about 10,000 written submissions on the proposal to ban military-style semi-automatic guns, like those used by the man accused of murdering 50 people as they prayed in two Christchurch mosques last month.

However, only 20 or so oral submissions were heard by MPs – the subject of much consternation among some firearm enthusiasts.

Police Association president Chris Cahill…

…praised the government and the opposition for their decisiveness in getting the legislation through Parliament.

Mr Cahill raised some serious concerns, though, about possible exemptions to the law, including for specially licensed dealers, “bona fide collectors”, museum curators and people using firearms for dramatic productions.

He said they were only required to remove a part from a firearm in order to make it inoperable. But he said this still was not safe as it was possible to reattach it.

David Tipple…

…said that if they passed the law in its present form, “you would be helping him win”.

Gun City continued selling the firearms used in the attack even after the prime minister said they would be banned.

“Rushing this good-feel [sic] law is causing division. It is bad law and it will result in serious injustices. Worse, it ignores what went wrong. There are no loopholes in the existing law, this happened because he broke numerous laws.”

After his appearance, Mr Tipple told reporters what action he believed New Zealanders should take.

“Which one of us after this event doesn’t have a warm fuzzy when we see a hijab? We have all grown in empathy with that community because of that event. That is how we beat that mad Australian; when we get together and not divide. When you stop lynching me as a gun owner.”

There were submissions from people seeking exemptions…

…including Andrew Edgecombe from the Antique and Historical Arms Association, who said his members were feeling “victimised, marginalised and criminalised” because of their chosen interest.

Ben Allen from Airsoft NZ asked that plastic airsoft guns be exempt because, although they may look a bit like military-style semi-autos, they wouldn’t be able to to fire actual bullets.

Pistol New Zealand, too, asked that legitimate target shooters be exempted.

Martin Taylor from Fish and Game, which represents some 40,000 hunters, said while the organisation supported the bill, he was concerned about the six-month deadline.

“With the nature of the large number of weapons that have to be bought back we wondering whether six months is actually practical,” Mr Taylor said.

The most contentious submission was by gun rights blogger Mike Loder, who called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a “tyrant” for rushing the law through.

“I watched the prime minister literally laugh when she announced that new gun laws will be rushed through. A journalist said would people be able to make submissions? She literally laughed. That is a tyrant.”

Nuts like that will make it easier for MPs to justify a clampdown on semi-automatics weapons that are designed to kill people.

Stuff: Tipple spat with journalists

Gun City owner in heated exchange with media before making gun law reform submission at Parliament.

Stuff: Tears and tension over gun law

It’s now or never, or it’s knee-jerk “good-feel” lawmaking that lets the terrorist win, select committee hears.

Stuff opinion: How gun lobby may fight back

Tactics are likely to mirror those used by tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries.

It is not a singular ‘gun lobby’. There are a quarter of a million licensed firearm owners who have a variety of views on what legal restrictions should be put in place.

Newsroom:  The rollercoaster ride of firearms reform

Parliament has been pushed and pulled between emotion and detail, conspiracy and research in its bid to carry out gun law reform in hyperdrive. But some say there’s no other way, as Laura Walters writes.

There were moments of specificity throughout the marathon day of oral submissions on firearms reforms to Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee.

But by and large, the appearance of more than 20 submitters was a chance to give those most affected by the Christchurch terror attack, and the subsequent decision to ban a raft of dangerous weapons, a chance to say their piece.

The speed at which the Government has moved to change the country’s gun laws makes your head spin.

For those MPs involved, as well as the experts, public and media witnessing the democratic process in action on Thursday, it was a stark reminder why laws are not usually made this way, and shouldn’t be.

Politicians are clearly aware of the responsibility resting on their shoulders, and the tight timeframe in which they have to get this law right.

Law Society president Tiana Epati again emphasised the speed when she talked about the ability of the society’s criminal experts to consider Crown Law advice on the bill overnight on Wednesday.

While there was good reason for speed, Epati said the society had been unable to dig into the definitions and possible unintended consequences of the drafting; the legal experts wanted just a couple more days.

I personally think that tighter laws are overdue and should happen, but have concerns over the rushed process.