The penalising of the firearms community by Jacinda Ardern’s Government is continuing through the heavy-handed law changes in the Arms Legislation Bill, which is presently being considered by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. It will introduce a firearms register, reduce the license period from 10 years to 5 years, and impose such onerous requirements on gun clubs and shooting ranges that there are fears many will be forced to close.

There are also growing concerns that Labour’s changes are so unreasonable that they will drive the use of firearms underground.

Furthermore, the information provided by submissions on the Bill suggests these draconian firearm restrictions are indeed completely misguided.

One of the submitters, an ammunitions dealer from Timaru who supplied the alleged Christchurch gunman, believes it was the failure of the Police to adequately assess a gun license application from a newly arrived foreigner, that was to blame for the tragedy – not Kiwi firearm owners.

Here are extracts from his submission:

My name is Paul McNeill, I am a Ships Master and Volunteer Firefighter, a husband, father and grandfather to my family in Timaru.

I am a licenced firearm Dealer and operate Aoraki Ammunition Company.

We supplied Brenton Tarrant with ammunition subject to a Police Mail Order form issued in accordance with section 43 of the Arms Act 1983.

Like the majority of New Zealanders we were appalled at the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Since the attack, our business has been effectively destroyed by the changing legislation. We have stock we cannot sell, ammunition that is now prohibited, and assets that are now worthless…

Recommendations: I recommend that this Legislation is postponed and delayed until the result of the Royal commission into how Brenton Tarrant obtained his firearms.

We supplied him with 2320 rounds of ammunition on the 7th December 2017. The authorisation for the sale being provided by the Dunedin Arms Officer L.M Bracegirdle.

Mr Tarrant was in possession of a full term licence number T5230424 with an expiry date of 19 September 2027. As Mr Tarrant was recently arrived in New Zealand his obtaining a 10 year licence in such a quick time is cause for concern.

The issuing of this licence allowed him to obtain firearms lawfully via the Police Mail Order system.

The proposed changes in the Legislation do not address the lack of vetting and referees that allowed Mr Tarrant to obtain his licence.

Registration would not prevent a repeat of the Christchurch tragedy, as the Police were aware on the 7th December 2017 that Tarrant was in possession of a AR15 rifle and a Norninco SKS – this was on his Police Mail order form.

In his oral submission, Paul McNeill said, “At the time, Brenton Tarrant was issued with a 10 year firearms licence, which from my information was only a matter of five or six weeks after he arrived in the country… he had no family, no partner, no job, no footprint in the community, yet he was vetted as being fit and proper and obviously given a full licence which allowed him to arm himself.”

In other words, it appears that the Police gave a newly arrived Australian, with no roots in this country, a license that enabled him to legally purchase the firearms he later used for the crime.

The Prime Minister will be well aware of this information indicating that the responsibility for the tragedy appears to lie with the Police – yet she is continuing to exploit the Christchurch attack to force through a politically-driven anti-gun agenda of the sort that would normally be rejected by freedom loving Kiwis.

With the report back date of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack having been extended from the 10th of December until the 30th of April 2020, the Arms Legislation Amendment Bill and SOP 408 should be put on hold until the results of their investigations are known – instead of being rushed into law ahead of the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Stephen Franks, a lawyer and former MP, concurs:

“I am not surprised the Royal Commission into the Mosque attacks needs an extension of its report date. In April I posted on its terms of reference. There is a great need for careful reflective investigation independent of a Police force that has become nakedly engaged in political advocacy.

“The Commission’s work is vital – we should all want an evidence based disciplined report. How a free society deals with the terrorism threat is serious everywhere. If the Commission can give us a report that counters current political temptations to whip up the fever, it should have all the time it needs.

“From what we have seen of the submissions to the Commission and on the Arms Legislation Bill, the latter does actually nothing that would have materially impeded Tarrant. Instead it vilifies lawful firearms owners. It is a diversion from reforming the Police practices that might even have enabled him.”

Stephen warns, “We have had an international reputation as being like Switzerland and Iceland – a high trust society with mutual respect between law abiding firearms users, and Police. We are seeing a cynical attempt to give NZ the kind of toxic permanent debate over firearms law that discredits politics in the US – for partisan advantage.”

Stephen is right – by treating firearm owners badly Labour is creating a group it can villainise. It is unscrupulous politics.

Worse, evidence shows the main law change being proposed in this latest Bill – namely the registration of firearms – will not only end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it won’t work.

New Zealand has tried firearm registration before. It was introduced in the 1920s but was eventually abandoned in the eighties because it was too inaccurate and costly.

Since that time, the approach taken in this country has been to ensure gun owners are “fit and proper” to own a firearm.

If the failure of our own attempt to register firearms is not enough to convince the Government that registration does not work, they should carefully examine Canada’s disastrous experience.

Their gun registration scheme was introduced in 1995 following a mass shooting in Montreal. While it was estimated to cost around C$2 million, before being abandoned, it had blown out to C$3 billion!

The problem was that the Canadian Government alienated law-abiding gun owners in the way the law changes were introduced. As a result, many refused to register their firearms.

During the 17 years the registry operated, it is said to have recorded no more than a third of the guns otherwise legally owned in Canada.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already repeated the Canadian Government’s mistakes, by unreasonably cracking down on the law-abiding firearms community after the Christchurch tragedy.

As a result, the outcome of gun registration in this country will almost certainly be a similar expensive disaster.

The signs are already there. In a briefing prepared for the Government in April, the Police estimated that there may be as many as 240,000 firearms of the type that would be banned under the new law in the country. Other estimates put the number at around 200,000. The latest figures on the Police website from the buyback show that with three weeks to go before the scheme ends, only 40,000 or so firearms have been handed in.

The reality is that New Zealand’s law-abiding firearms community is incredibly unlucky to have a Prime Minister who was prepared to use the Christchurch tragedy to force her ideologically-driven gun law changes onto the country.

Jacinda Ardern needs to put a halt on the proposed legislation until the Royal Commission of Inquiry delivers its recommendations.

If it turns out, as suspected, that it is the Police vetting system that needs to be changed – to ensure new immigrants are firmly established in our community before they can acquire a gun license – then those proposed firearm law changes should be scrapped.