COLFO: Fair and Reasonable UpdateBy Nicole McKee, COLFO
- 26th Nov, 2019
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Royal Commission Delayed, New Firearms Law Full Steam Ahead
The Government has given the Royal Commission into the Christchurch terror attacks an extra four months. It will now report back in April 2020, while the Arms Legislation Bill is likely to pass into law a month earlier. ACT has always maintained that any changes to our firearm laws must wait for the Royal Commission.
IF IT’S WORTH DOING, IT’S WORTH DOING RIGHT
Submitters on the Arms Legislation Bill have been virtually unanimous on the point that the Government must wait. The Royal Commission may well show the Government’s new legislation has not solved any problem with the current law. But, of course, the new law will place significant costs on the law-abiding firearms community. That is not to mention other parts of the legislation that may make us less safe. If this legislation was primarily about public safety, the Government would wait for the Royal Commission’s findings and then consider its options. But the Prime Minister is determined to pass legislation on the one-year anniversary of Christchurch. That speaks volumes.
MORE LAW CHANGES
The Government has introduced new amendments to the Arms Legislation Bill which are unnecessary, ambiguous, and ill-conceived, and demonstrate no meaningful benefit to public safety. The biggest change – a new category or definition of a pistol, a ‘small semi-automatic pistol’ – is problematic. The existing definition is sufficient, has been in legislation since 1983, and is supported by years of case law. Pistols are tightly controlled, and B and C endorsement-holders have not committed a single crime using such a firearm. The change would also result in a range of historical firearms becoming prohibited.
CARBINE CONVERSION KITS
The prohibition of carbine conversion kits is unnecessary, and could also have unintended consequences for historical kits. A carbine conversion kit can only be used with a pistol on a certified range, therefore the purchaser already has a B endorsement and is held to the highest standard of Police vetting. In any case, a carbine conversion kit does not make a pistol more ‘dangerous’, and we should not be basing law changes on appearance as opposed to functionality.
A POWER GRAB AND LITTLE TIME FOR PUBLIC INPUTt
The amendment also enables the government of the day to prohibit any type of firearm on a whim without requiring the agreement of Parliament. This is deeply troubling. The Government has again provided far too little time for public input, but you can still make a submission on the amendment here until Friday.
A PERMANENT AMNESTY?
Police have suggested they will use a long-standing provision of the law to effectively put in place a permanent firearms amnesty after 20 December. This is an admission that Parliament has completely failed in its approach to firearms law.
CONTINUED FAILURE OF THE ‘BUY-BACK’
April’s legislation was rushed, there was no meaningful consultation, and many gun owners have been offered inadequate compensation for their property. Licensed firearms owners rightly have a deep scepticism of the ‘buy-back’ and amnesty. Just 38,000 firearms have been handed in out of potentially 240,000. We are now more than 80 per cent of the way through the original six month buy-back and amnesty period, but Police have collected just 15 per cent of prohibited firearms. Taxpayers have spent $73 million buying firearms from the most law-abiding LFOs, in some cases for guns they didn’t want anyway. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of firearms remain unaccounted for. The Government now appears to be accepting it was a pointless exercise.
GOVERNMENT BEGGING GANGS TO HAND IN GUNS
ACT has always said that it would only be the most law-abiding firearms owners handing in firearms. While that is happening, Police are begging the gangs to participate. Stuff reported last week that Police’s attempts to get gangs to hand over their firearms have been fruitless. The Government is going after the wrong people and taxpayers have spent tens of million taking the least dangerous guns out of circulation.
You will no doubt have heard that the Finance and Expenditure Committee stopped the live-streaming of Paul McNeill’s oral submission on the Arms Legislation Bill on 15 November and pulled his written submission from the Parliament website. This happened because the committee was concerned that some of the issues might be sub judice and could affect the alleged Christchurch terrorist’s court case or the Royal Commission of Inquiry. After taking advice, the committee reheard Paul’s oral submission in private and republished his written submission. A win for common sense.
ON THE ROAD
David is enjoying getting around the country and speaking to Deerstalkers Associations and Pistol and Antique Arms clubs about what is happening and what we can do about it. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like him to speak to your club.
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