Gang differences over handing in semi-automatic weapons

There was some silly public defiance of the change of firearm regulations requiring high powered semi-automatic firearms to be handed in.

Like Gang bosses say weapons won’t be handed back after Christchurch mosque shooting

Ask yourself – Sonny Fatu says – how many mass shootings in New Zealand have been committed by gang members? None, he says.

“And how many have been committed by someone of Pākehā origin? Many if we include the terror raids of marae when colonialists stole land and killed women and children, but in more recent times we have Aramoana and now this – the murder of 50 innocent people.”

Fatu is president of the Waikato branch of the Mongrel Mob.

In the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks, the Mongrel Mob was criticised for having used sieg heil slogans and swastikas. The Waikato chapter stopped the practice four years ago.

The gang was also criticised for offering to provide security around mosques at services marking the death of 50 Muslims in the Christchurch terror attack. This was a crude PR ploy and gang members would turn in their own guns if they were genuine, one commentator suggested.

But Fatu accuses Pākehā commentators of diverting attention away from the Christchurch mosque killer. The real issue, he says, is racism.

“Our brown brothers and sisters shouldn’t have to fix this for them – they, we, have endured enough.”

“Will gangs get rid of their weapons? No,” Fatu says. “Because of who we are, we can’t guarantee our own safety.”

A report by the Law and Order Select Committee in April 2017 described unlawful firearms possession is an integral aspect of New Zealand’s gang culture. A 2014 police analysis showed 44 per cent of gang members had been charged with firearms offences.

But there has been a response to this, by politicians and by other gang members.

Newshub:  ‘You will hand them back’: Winston Peters’ warning to gangs over gun law reform

Winston Peters…

…has issued a warning to gang members who say they won’t be handing over their guns despite the Government’s crackdown.

The Deputy Prime Minister said on Monday that official legislation had been agreed upon by Cabinet to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, among other gun law reforms.

When asked how the Government would respond to gang members who refuse to hand over their weapons, Peters said the message will be clear: “You will be handing them back to the Government or some lawful authority.

“We don’t plan to fail on this… the process will apply to them, the same for any law abiding citizen in this country who has an armament that is legal but is about to be made illegal.”

“We intend to enforce the law and it’s not a matter of cooperation – it’s a matter of being obliged to conform with the law of this country or be operating illegally for which there will be consequences,” Peters said.

Police Minister Stuart Nash…

…who joined Peters at his post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, said the penalties for carrying illegal firearms have increased “substantially”.

Under the legislation, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm in a public place would result in seven years imprisonment, and using a prohibited firearm to resist arrest would carry a penalty of 10 years in prison.

“I found it abhorrent that you could have gang members in the media publicly saying that they were going to break the law. We take that very, very seriously,” Nash said.

People who illegally posses firearms tend to try to keep them hidden, so it may be difficult to remove all military style or semi-automatic weapons that are now illegal, but the new regulations and pending law changes will make it easier to seize any that are found.

RNZ:  National’s Judith Collins wants tougher action on gangs with guns

National Party MP Judith Collins…

…is urging the government to crack down on gangs with illegal firearms by giving the police greater powers to raid gang homes.

“We also saw people like gang members coming out and saying they were with the Muslim New Zealanders and then someone asked them the question, ‘what about giving up your illegal firearms?’

“Well I tell you what … best way forward is to give the police the powers, give them the fire power to do it, and get on and take them.”

At the Arms Amendment Bill’s first reading in Parliament yesterday, she urged the government to consider firearm prohibition orders against gangs.

“One of the things I thought was most important was the issue around firearm prohibition orders, to enable to police to go into gang houses and seize firearms, whether they know for certain they are there or not.

“I’m sick and tired of listening to people emoting about how they’re feeling sorry, but they’re not going to give up their firearms.”

National MP Mark Mitchell…

“The fact that they were flouting the authority that this Parliament has, that this country has, in saying that they are not going to observe the legislation that this Parliament is passing.

“I 100 percent support in taking the strongest possible line that we can against gangs.”

But Mongrel Mob member Tai Pairama…

…said many gang members will surrender illegal firearms, despite what the gang’s Waikato president said.

“That’s his personal opinion, it’s not the opinion of the rest of the nation. The views are in his own inner circle, and some people are disregarding some of his comments.”

Plenty of time to hand them in.

Owners of illegal firearms have until the end of September to hand them into authorities.

Those who do not, including gang members, could face up to 10 years in prison.

I wonder whether the semi-automatic buy-back scheme will include or exclude illegally obtained weapons.

Significant but not drastic firearm law changes

The Government have announced a significant ban on ‘military style’ semi-automatic firearms and magazines, effective immediately, but have given practical semi-automatics such as .22 and shotguns a reprieve. More stringent licensing requirements and measures will be introduced later, and a buyback scheme is yet to be announced.

I think this is as far as the Government could reasonably go in a very short timeframe, and most legitimate firearm users should be happy with this. It looks good banning ‘military weapons’ but doesn’t go as far as some people wanted.

Order in Council:  Arms (Military Style Semi-automatic Firearms) Order 2019

Federated Farmers approve:

There has been a strong positive reaction from the US.


New Zealand bans military style semi-automatics and assault rifles

  • Military style semi-automatics and assault rifles banned under stronger gun laws
  • Immediate action to prevent stock-piling

Military style semi-automatics and assault rifles will be banned in New Zealand under stronger new gun laws announced today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch. Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand.

“Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines.

“An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in, and Cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme. Further details will be announced on the buyback in due course.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.

“When Australia undertook similar reforms, their approach was to allow for exemptions for farmers upon application, including for pest control and animal welfare. We have taken similar action to identify the weapons legitimately required in those areas, and preclude them.

“Legislation to give effect to the ban will be introduced when Parliament sits in the first week of April. We will provide a short, sharp Select Committee process for feedback on the technical aspects of the changes. We are looking to progress the amendments to this legislation under urgency and expect these amendments to the Arms Act to be passed within the next session of Parliament,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The Bill will include narrow exemptions for legitimate business use, which would include professional pest control. Police and the Defence Force will also have exemptions. Issues like access for mainstream international sporting competitions are also being worked through,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

“We have also acknowledged that some guns serve legitimate purposes in our farming communities, and have therefore set out exemptions for 0.22 calibre rifles and shotguns commonly used for duck hunting. These will have limitations around their capacity.

“While the legislation is being drafted, I am announcing the Government will take immediate action today to restrict the potential stock-piling of these guns and encourage people to continue to surrender their firearms.

Earlier this afternoon, an Order in Council under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act was signed by the Governor-General to reclassify a wider range of semi-automatic weapons under the Act. It came into effect at 3pm today.

“This interim measure will ensure that all of the weapons being banned under amendments to the Arms Act are now categorised as weapons requiring an E endorsement on a firearms licence.

“The effect of this is that it will prevent the sale of MSSAs and assault rifles to people with A category gun licences. The Order in Council is a transitional measure until the wider ban takes effect.

“We are introducing transitionary measures for gun owners to hand in their guns to Police to hold until details of a buy-back are announced. Likewise, the Police continue to accept guns for destruction.

“Again, we encourage gun owners to phone in to Police ahead of time to advise them they are bringing their guns in to the station,” Stuart Nash said.

“The actions announced today are the first step of the Government’s response. We will continue to develop stronger and more effective licensing rules, storage requirements and penalties for not complying with gun regulations. It is the Government’s intention that these amendments will go through the full legislative process,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“To owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you, and are not directed at you. Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”

 

 

Government planning firearm law changes, but important questions unanswered

It’s inevitable that New Zealand’s firearm laws are changed in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made it clear that the Government intends to make changes quickly, and will announce these within a week, but at this stage what is planned is vague.

There is certain to be changes to legal availability of semi-automatic weapons, and I think that most people accept this as necessary to some extent.

But there are fairly good reasons for retaining the ability to lawfully use semi-automatics for some purposes, especially semi-automatic .22 rimfire rifles for pest control (particularly possum control), and also semi-automatic shotguns for fowl control (like geese culling).

Ardern at her post-Cabinet media conference yesterday:

Cabinet today made in-principle decisions around the reform of our gun laws. I intend to give further detail of these decisions to the media and public before Cabinet meets again next Monday. This ultimately means that within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer.

In the intervening period, we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.

The clear lesson from history around the world is that to make our community safer, the time to act is now. I know that this might for a short period create a small degree of uncertainty amongst some gun owners, including those who possess guns for legitimate reasons, and I particularly acknowledge those in our rural communities. I want to assure you that the work that we are doing is not directed at you.

In fact, I strongly believe that the vast majority of gun owners in New Zealand will agree with the sentiment that change needs to occur. I, in fact, believe that they will be with us.

In the meantime, I want to remind people: you can surrender your gun to the police at any time. In fact I have seen reports that people are, in fact, already doing this.

I applaud that effort, and if you’re thinking about surrendering your weapon, I would encourage you to do so.

I have a semi-automatic .22 and have considered surrendering it, but at this stage have decided to wait. I actually need it over the next few weeks, as it is time to reduce my sheep flock before winter, and a rifle is the best way to start the process. For this I don’t operate it as a semi-automatic as I use low velocity cartridges that have insufficient power to reload – I have to manually clear the spent cartridge and manually reload.

Ardern revealed a little more at her media conference – Government has agreed to gun law changes, will tell public within week

Ardern made the quasi-announcement following an extended Cabinet meeting with ministers on Monday, which was widened to include Confidence and Supply partners the Green Party.

Ardern, who appeared alongside Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader Winston Peters, said there was no disagreement around the Cabinet table on the decision.

“Within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms that I think will make New Zealanders safer,” Ardern said.

“In the intervening period we will be working hard and as quickly as we can to finalise some of the details around the decision Cabinet has made today and the consequences of it.”

Ardern said she realised this period would create uncertainty for gun owners. She said the changes would not be aimed at responsible gun owners.

Peters, who has in the past opposed gun law reform, said that on Friday “our whole world changed. And some of our laws will as well”.

Ardern applauded those who had voluntarily surrendered their guns to police since the attack. She advised against prospective gun-owners making purchasing decisions in the coming days.

I presume that is aimed at people thinking of rushing in and purchasing a semi-automatic rifle to beat a ban (I think that is futile and silly), but more generally it is good advice.

I am likely to replace my rifle with a bolt action, but I don’t think now is a good time to rush into that. My rifle is stored safely and securely, ammunition is locked away separately, and only I know how to access it.

As for arguments for retaining some use of semi-automatics, some have been made here at Your NZ.

Andrew:

“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.

Ant Corke:

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.

I think these are both valid points in the debate over restricting access to semi-automatic firearms, and i hope the Government carefully considers these – Ardern has given an indication that they are listening to legitimate firearms users.

There are legitimate uses for semi-automatics that could justify special licensing to allow their use. This could be similar to the current special licensing to possess and use poisons for pest control.

After carefully considering things I have decided that I have good reason to still to have a firearm. I can switch from semi-automatic to bolt action and may well do this. If special licensing is required for any semi-automatic then I am unlikely to bother with that.

I think that just about all responsible firearm owners and users accept and support the need for some restrictions and law changes.

We will have to wait and see what extent the changes end up requiring.