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.

Worldwide coverage of Christchurch mosque massacres

On Saturday in Christchurch the man who is claimed to be largely or wholly responsible for the massacres in two mosques in Christchurch appeared in court, was charged with one count of murder (the police say more charges are pending), and was remanded in custody until another appearance due next month.

Otherwise there wasn’t a lot of new news from the scenes, with local media focussing on the impact on people who witnessed or affected by the killings.

But there seems have been a massive amount of international attention.

 

The use of social media platforms is under intense scrutiny.

There must be significant changes made at Facebook and other online platforms to address this issue. It is a difficult problem to deal with, but it must be.

One popular report:

The Ausies step up again: ODT:  Speaker banned from Aust after terror attack comments

Controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos has been banned from entering Australia on tour after his remarks about the New Zealand terror attack.

The government had agreed to the visa after conservative MPs had put pressure on Mr Coleman to override the Department of Home Affairs’ advice to ban Mr Yiannopoulos.

“I’m banned from Australia, again, after a statement in which I said I abhor political violence,” Mr Yiannopoulos said on social media after the announcement on Saturday.

Mr Yiannopoulos had described Islam as a “barbaric, alien” religious culture on social media overnight after the terror incident, prompting the government’s change of heart.

Immigration Minister David Coleman released a statement on Saturday after backflipping on a decision to grant Mr Yiannopoulos a visa into the country.

“Milo Yiannopoulos will not be allowed to enter Australia for his proposed tour this year,” Mr Coleman said, after having granted him a visa a week ago.

“Mr Yiannopoulos’ comments on social media regarding the Christchurch terror attack are appalling and foment hatred and division.

“The terrorist attack in Christchurch was carried out on Muslims peacefully practising their religion. It was an act of pure evil.”

Yiannopoulos exercised his right to free speech. Australia exercised it’s right to admit or exclude whoever they like to their country. There can be consequences for saying reprehensible things.

There are other ridiculous arses around the world:

But most of the coverage i can see is horrified and sympathetic:

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush will speak to media Sunday at 9:30am to provide an update on the Christchurch terror attack.

Trump reaction to New York terror attack

The vehicle terror attack in New York has not surprisingly been used by President Trump to promote tougher immigration restrictions, but he has also tried to blame a Democrat Senator.

NBC: Trump: ‘Terrorist’ Attack, Suspect ‘Deranged,’ ISIS Stay Out of U.S.

Police said the driver of a rental truck deliberately drove onto a bike path on the west side of lower Manhattan hitting bicyclists and others before getting out of the vehicle and being shot by police, law enforcement officials and witnesses said.

At least eight people were killed and 11 injured. Saipov is hospitalized and in police custody.

A law enforcement official told WNBC that a note found in the suspect’s truck claimed that he carried out the attack for ISIS.

This is the first ISIS claimed vehicle attack in the US but not the first vehicle attack.

President Donald Trump called the murderous spree by a rental truck driver in New York City on Tuesday “another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” sent condolences to victims of what the president referred to as a “terrorist attack,” and pledged to step up extreme vetting of those seeking to enter the U.S.

Later, Trump tweeted, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

The problem here is that this attacker was already living in the US – Saipov entered the United States in 2010 on a diversity visa and had become a lawful permanent resident.

Another problem is Trump’s diversion in trying to lay some blame on a Democrat Senator for the attack – Reuters: After New York attack, Trump blasts senior Democratic senator

In Twitter posts, the Republican president linked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to a visa program under which Trump said the man suspected of Tuesday’s attack, an Uzbek immigrant, entered the United States.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer responded that Trump should stop “politicizing and dividing America” at times of national tragedy.

Trump reprised what has been his stance as a White House candidate and as president – that tougher immigration laws should be a first line of defense against terrorism.

He said the suspect entered the country through the so-called diversity visa program, which was created by Congress in 1990, to provide a path to U.S. residency for citizens from a range of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based”.

In another post, Trump cited an analyst who appeared on a Fox News Channel program, writing, “‘Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems’ said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!”

But:

Schumer helped create the program in 1990 when he was a member of the House of Representatives, but he was also a member of a group of lawmakers who crafted a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that would have done away with the program. That bill was passed by the Senate but was killed by the Republican-led House.

Schumer responded:

“Instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, (Trump) should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution, anti-terrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget.”

Sad to see a terror attack being used in political bickering.

Stopping the diversity lottery and stepping up the Extreme Vetting Program won’t address problems already in the US. The division stoked by President Trump is probably as big a risk as anything.