Maureen Coleman
Facebook (edited for clarity by The BFD)

Where do I start? The second reading of the Arms Amendment Bill has been before the house, and the 3rd reading is very near. I hope and trust beyond all else that the end of a hugely important way of life for myself and my family is not also very near due to some poorly thought out decision making.

Having already been deemed a good person, a responsible person of sound qualities and one who gives and has given a lot to society and many communities along the way I believe I have earned the right to own and use firearms.

I use them for the right reasons, in the proper manner and the results of my hunting feeds not only my own family but others along the way. This Bill in its current format will certainly restrict that, it will penalise vast numbers of people like me, yet those that should not have any contact with firearms are being let slip through the net even more.

I am probably not someone who fits the typical mould of a hunter or maybe even a firearms users but what is the typical mould? Politicians need to realise that vast sectors of society have earned this right and it should not be the right of others to unduly take that away with the stroke of a pen!

We should not have the government or ministers who do not have a sound knowledge of ‘life as a firearms owner’ to determine the fate of our sport, recreation and livelihoods based primarily on ill-informed ideals.

In my case, I have been hunting for over 40 years. I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother. I have been ‘hands-on’ in a farming partnership. I currently work (and have done for 30 years) in local government, banking and business administration. I have worked liked hell to get where I am today – please respect that. The giving person in me keeps giving. I am President of our local hunting club (Thames Valley Deerstalkers (TVDA) for close to 14 years). I am a fully qualified Range Officer. I’ve been a Firearms Safety Instructor through Mountain Safety Council. I am close to being a fully qualified HUNTS instructor. I am a Community Patrol Member and have served on various school committees and BOT’s. I have spent massive hours as a volunteer ambulance officer over several years – and yes; I own a firearm, and I use it to go hunting.

I am passionate about hunting, and I thrive on time in the hills and most importantly, sharing those opportunities with the next generations. This time in the hills and around firearms in a fully responsible manner instils accountability, responsibility, trust and respect – all invaluable qualities that make excellent people as our future leaders. In the case of youngsters, they are sponges for information; they thrive on the positive reinforcement and opportunities to use firearms – but this is always ever only in a fully responsible and supervised manner. The results of this are outstanding, and the qualities of these youngsters as they progress through to adulthood and their contributions back to society are immense, and should not be overlooked.

Wearing my other hat as a fully involved club member and mentor within TVDA it is incredibly humbling to see the way that people from all sectors of our community and right across the age ranges all combine so well. The common interest in the outdoors, the connected firearms community (we facilitate shooting across a range of disciplines – rifles, pistols, shotguns and archery) and the unity that this brings needs to be seen to be fully understood and appreciated.

We are in a high deprivation area of New Zealand. We have over 400 members in our club, and our ranges are a vital component in the safe use of firearms in our wider community. Those tasked with making the big decisions on this Bill must be forward-thinking and realise that placing undue, unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on clubs and ranges will be a huge mistake.

By hobbling clubs and ranges with shackles as is so evident in the Bill – it will force so many people to use firearms in an unsafe manner, in hazardous locations, without mentoring, without support and sadly, errors, accidents or even worse will happen – and so much more so than we ever see now.

Please see reason. Please see common sense. Please understand that genuine clubs that meet the criteria of being worthy of having ranges and operating them in a safe manner must be allowed to continue to be permitted and NOT with unreasonable restrictions that will ultimately force them to close.

Members who have clearly proven their genuine credentials to the Police and been fully vetted and approved to be firearms owners should not be facing undue and unreasonable constraints on legal ranges. After all, there have never been any serious incidents or deaths on a shooting range in New Zealand that I am aware of. This certainly cannot be said for suburban streets and public places since this Amendment Bill came into being and this Bill was supposed to be all about making New Zealand a safer place!

Lawfully licenced firearms owners have earned this right to own and use a firearm and club ranges are the safest places for that to happen. By giving them a licence they are fully entitled to go hunting with a group of mates in the bush, on public land and with so many more variables than on a range yet on a range, the restrictions are being ramped up without any consideration of the actual facts.

Giving people who have earned the right to have a firearm, respect for their abilities and respect for their sport/recreation/employment is a must. At present, we; the legal firearms owners are being treated like we are a threat to society. This must change and the way to do that, is to give us and our rightfully owned firearms the respect that we deserve.

This Bill will have a massive bearing on the voting strength at the upcoming elections without a doubt. The firearms community may seem to be somewhat subdued compared to what you had anticipated- but don’t be lulled into thinking this has been accepted. That is not acceptance; this is knowing that come election time the quiet majority will speak – and speak we will with our votes.

I will most definitely be voting with my hand on my heart, my head in the right place, knowing where common sense prevails and ensuring that what is so important for me and tens of thousands of other good law-abiding citizens in this country is retained for future generations.

We may be seen as just ordinary people, and I am hugely proud to be ‘just one of those ordinary people in the community’. It goes without saying that united we stand and it is the will of these citizens of our country; those with a passion for supporting future generations to be ‘just ordinary people’ who excel in making New Zealand a better place through the qualities instilled in them by those in clubs and organisations such as ours, that will be our greatest reward.

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