Politicians urged to ‘do the right thing’
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"What that means is putting aside political point-scoring and stepping up to pass the Arms Legislation Bill which is the right thing for the safety of all New Zealanders," Association President Chris Cahill says.
"After yet another weekend of shootings - one killed, one critically injured and three others injured - it is clear that the second tranche of gun reforms is a life and death matter."
"We just have to get these guns off the streets and a firearms registry is a major component of that," he said.
"It was extremely encouraging to see the political symmetry in firearms reforms in the days after the Christchurch mosque shootings last year, but it is now obvious that lobbying and election-year politics have taken their toll on that resolve, at a time when we can least afford it," he said.
Mr Cahill urges those who are the subject of lobbying against the bill, to question the veracity of petitions they are receiving.
"My concern is based on receiving two emails from the gun lobby group COLFO, confirming delivery of my letter to NZ First Leader Winston Peters urging him to reject the Arms Legislation Bill. Given I never sent such an email to Mr Peters and, for glaringly obvious reasons I never authorised COLFO to add my name to their campaign, I wonder how many others are in the same position?"
The association has thanked the law-abiding firearms owners who took part in the buy-back and because of their actions, 60,000 of the most dangerous weapons are now off our streets and not available to be stolen by criminals.
All evidence on the source of illegally held firearms is that they are stolen, traded or bought from licensed gun owners. In the past five years, 4200 firearms were reported stolen across the country, and that is just the number Police has been told about.
"In the last year there have been 323 incidents in which firearms were presented at either police, the public, or both, and in ten incidents the firearms were discharged.
"Firearms owners who took part in the buy-back have stepped up. Now it is time for their elected representatives to do likewise. The Arms Legislation Bill is due back before parliament this week and it needs to be passed into law," Mr Cahill says.
"The firearms registry is a must. It will tell us how many guns we have in this country, who owns them and how they are stored. There is no reason for New Zealand to remain an outlier in the world when it comes to gun registration - alongside the United States which is awash with guns. If a country like Somalia can enact a gun register surely New Zealand can."
During the second reading of the bill last week, the association was alarmed to hear mention of establishing a separate entity to administer firearms law.
"I find it difficult to see the benefit of splitting off administration of the registry and other firearms policy management," Mr Cahill says.
"Apart from unnecessary cost, which would surely have to be met by firearms owners, my major concern is the significant risk of vital intelligence being missed. A common link to many security failures across the world has been the inability of government agencies and systems to communicate with each other. Creating a separate entity, as suggested, would increase the risk of this occurring."