The Arms Legislation Bill has passed its second reading. Many people are complaining that NZ First voted for it, which they did. Those complaining have no real understanding of parliamentary processes or the reality of politics.

The argument being put about is that if NZ First voted down the bill it would be dead. Whilst true, it ignores political reality. The law is going to change, the question by how much?

The bill now sits in what is known as the Committee of the Whole House. This is the process that happens when the whole house, not just the select committee, gets to debate the bill, propose amendments and shape the legislation into something workable.

You can read all the information on the bill, including the submissions made during the select committee stage. That includes the submission of our own Dieuwe de Boer which the Police appear to have illegally used to provide an excuse to raid his house.

It is at this stage that ALL parties will get to make amendments, and it is in reality where the most influence can be exerted on the law. Public submissions are fine and dandy but they generally don’t make too much difference. This is where it is really important to listen to the speeches of key players. I don’t mean the National party, or the Act party either, because in reality they are either tone-deaf and ridiculous, like Brett Hudson, or simply without any political power like David Seymour.

Don’t get me wrong here, David Seymour has done sterling work on opposing the more draconian aspects to this bill. However, he is but one vote and this is a government bill. We all know that Labour and the Greens want to disarm the population and that the minister responsible is a defanged political poodle of the Police. That means that the ONLY party that can effectively make meaningful and sensible changes to the law is NZ First.

Stuart Nash knows this which is why he is trying to shore up support for the legislation from National. The thing that concerns me the most is that National out of pure spite to NZ First might vote with Labour and the Greens to defeat NZ First proposals.

Which brings me what they, and in particular Ron Mark are saying.

The key parts are towards the end, and if Stuart Nash isn’t concentrating he is going to look very silly indeed as he continues to push the Police agenda. Then again he doesn’t think much of gun owners as I’ve seen communications between him and another party that shows utter contempt for gun owners, pushing the Police agenda and a willingness to ignore the OIA. I imagine those messages may well see the light of day in due course. But have a read, or listen if you prefer, there are some good hints contained in his speech:

I want to conclude by saying two things. The committee of the whole House is a place where this debate will be worked through. Mr Mitchell has already made it clear, and I’m talking with Minister Nash about some things that we just want to settle in our head. One of those things is resolving the question—and it was discussed in the select committee’s deliberations—around the proposal to instate, and Chlöe Swarbrick raised this issue, the question as to whether or not police should continue to administer firearms law; the question as to whether it’s appropriate to have an entity that is the enforcer of the law and the writer of the law, where the separation of powers is blurred.

Right now it is of concern to me and to New Zealand First that the confidence of firearms owners in police has been undermined. New Zealand First has all along said there is need here for a conversation about an arms authority that takes that statutory responsibility, thus leaving the police to one side to simply enforce the law, just as NZTA issue the drivers licences, determine the testing regime, decide who is fit and proper to have a drivers licence. So too there is a strong argument, we would contest, for a separate body doing that, leaving the police not to write the law, or rewrite it through regulation, according to what they wish, but leaving them just to enforce the law.

This is a very sensible idea. Stuart Nash when he was in opposition campaigned against law changes via regulation. He told a room full of shooters that he didn’t agree with it, but on obtaining his ministerial warrant has overseen more law changes by regulation in one year than there were in the previous 10 years!

The Police have proven, by their own actions, that they are inept when it comes to using firearms, lackadaisical when it comes to security of firearms, and incompetent when it comes to maintaining even the limited firearms register that exists today, and lastly potentially criminally incompetent when it comes to protecting the privacy of firearms owners. A separate body to administer the Arms Act is a must, and something that Stuart Nash has failed to think of.

So I think this conversation has to go on. I think there was a further conversation to be had around farmers who have serious problems with pest control. There is a serious conversation to be had around sporting shooters, and there’s also some recognition due to Colfo. It hurts me to hear people labelling an organisation, the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners, as a gun lobby or equivalent to the National Rifle Association.

Brett Hudson: Well, that’s your Minister, Mr Mark!

Hon RON MARK: That hurts me, Mr Hudson, because something that I don’t think members of this House do realise or understand is that certain people in this country, by virtue of the endorsements they hold, are muted and have their hands tied behind their back. If they come forward to make a submission, they immediately identify themselves in public as being a collector or a restricted firearms owner, which opens their home up to being a target for gangs seeking access to these types of firearms. They are never going to jeopardise their personal safety by coming along and publicly identifying. These people are lawyers, doctors, professionals—I know one who’s an economist. I know many of these people are schoolteachers. They are very responsible, law-abiding New Zealanders, and they need an organisation like Colfo to represent their concerns because they cannot for fear of identifying themselves and putting their family’s safety at risk. So we acknowledge that, and we will do our very best to represent their interests. Thank you, and I say good of them to the committee—

Ron Mark failed to list the Police in the list of people wanting to cause harm to shooters. We know that they’ve been targeting outspoken voices. They appear to have used select committee submissions to justify an armed raid on a young, Christian family. We know that Stuart Nash thinks organisations like COLFO are liars, he’s said that in text messages. We know that he treats OIA requests with disdain, and we know that he is a lickspittle to whatever the Police want.

We also know that the buyback was an abject failure for several reasons, the first being the distinct lack of any sort of positive publicity over it and the fact that one of the weapons used in gang-related terror in Tauranga recently was an AK47. That last fact has been kept remarkably quiet by Police as an inconvenient acknowledgement of the scheme’s failure.

Before hastily rushing to judgment of what are rather routine processes through the parliament, instead watch what amendments are put up and which ones pass. The bill is not yet in its final form and the real power to change the bill lies with NZ First.

Now for the political lesson. The law IS going to change and how much it changes to protect our sport is pretty much up to NZ First. They’ve watched Act’s support grow off of the back of David Seymour’s principled position on gun laws. His support certainly hasn’t grown over his free speech stance, nor because of his kill a granny bill; those simply are not issues which would dramatically increase support. NZ First has seen the growth and there is no way they will let that continue.

There are potentially a million votes up for grabs, 250,000 licenced firearms owners plus their families, and any party that seeks to further erode our rights will be held to account. Those parties that protect our rights will be rewarded, it is as simple as that. Apart from sniffing a trough at a hundred paces, most politicians also know how to count and 250,000 LFOs is 10% of the voting public. NZ First needs those votes more than National does and they will fight hard for them.

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