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Fair and Reasonable Update: Politics turned on its head...

By Michael Dowling, COLFO
  •   30th Mar, 2020 Mar 30, 2020, 6:11 PM
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The last eight days have certainly turned politics on its head. We’ve been fielding questions from members and supporters about what the lockdown means in terms of the Government’s ability to change the law, and our litigation.

 

LITIGATION - AN UPDATE FROM THE LAWYERS

The situation with the Courts is very fluid. They are still trying to work out how to manage hearings - what will be prioritised and whether video hearings will be possible. We are aware that any delays may impact on our ability to fend off potential law the Government insists on ramming through before the election.

 

ROYAL COMMISSION - WE DON’T YET KNOW WHETHER THE LOCKDOWNS WILL FORCE ANOTHER DELAY

Last week’s welcome news that the Christchurch shooter pled guilty, led to the Royal Commission putting out this update. While it mentions “significant impact on the inquiry”, it does not say whether the inquiry will still be able to report back by the due date next month. Like so much, it probably depends on when the lockdown is lifted.

 

PARLIAMENT - NOT IN SESSION

Parliament is adjourned for a month. That means the Arms Legislation Bill can’t progress through to the Committee of the Whole-house (the second to last stage of passing the Bill).

 

In Parliament’s place, a special select committee has been established chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Bridges. The “Epidemic Response Committee” will meet remotely on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 10:00am - 12:30pm. Meetings will be live-streamed on Parliament’s website and Facebook page.

 

The Select Committee can quiz the Government, and examine actions taken related to the national emergency – it cannot pass law.

 

GOVERNMENT’S EMERGENCY POWERS

However, the pandemic’s emergency powers in theory give the Government ability to bring in any law they like. In theory the Government could introduce new laws (including those related to firearms) on the basis of public safety.

 

While we think this highly unlikely, we are not taking anything for granted. We will write to Simon Bridges (as the chair of the emergency select committee) to remind him that the emergency powers shouldn’t be abused to bring in further firearm changes and that it is his job to ensure that Government doesn’t abuse its powers to use the emergency as an excuse to by-pass Parliament on measures that have no genuine pandemic necessity.

 

We will also take the opportunity to remind MPs that they now have no excuse not to wait for the Royal Commission report back before progressing arms law changes.

 

“We are aware that any delays may impact on our ability to fend off potential law the Government insists on ramming through before the election.”

 

EXPIRATION OF LICENCES WHILE UNDER LOCKDOWN

Last week we wrote to the Police to request an automatic extension for firearms licenses that are expiring during or immediately following the lockdown as it will be impossible for firearm owners to be able to complete the relicensing process in time.

 

An automatic extension (or assurance of leniency) would prevent license owners from having to move their firearms to another firearm owner under lockdown conditions.

 

While we have received notification that the Firearms Safety Programme has been suspended due to the Covid19 alert level, we are still waiting to hear back about extensions. As soon as we know more, we will post advice onto our Facebook page.

 

STAYING SAFE

Now is the time to unite, apart. We hope you and your family stay safe and well.

 

Thank you for your support.

 

Michael Dowling

Chairman

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners

(on behalf of the Fair and Reasonable Campaign)

 

Keep up with Fair and Reasonable on Facebook.

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