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Fair and Reasonable Update: The Government made a key concession this week

By Michael Dowling, COLFO

I’ve been fielding a large volume of email the last few days asking about what we’re hearing on the Royal Commission Report and what we’ve been doing in recent days. This is to update you on both fronts. 

 

Nicole’s first questioning of the Police Minister - and the key concession by the Government

First things first though: did you see Nicole in Parliament this week? Our former spokeswomen, now ACT MP, Nicole Mckee, had her first opportunity this week to question the new Minister of Police Poto Williams. 

 

Under questioning from Nicole, the new Police Minister made a very significant concession that the Government does not expect criminals to comply with its new firearms register! Watch for yourself here.

 

Nicole’s questions start at 4:07 and again from 6:10 (the key part).

 

The concession is common sense but opens up the question we’ve been asking all along: why punish the law-abiding, responsible licenced firearms owners - and put their safety at risk with a vulnerable information database - when the Government know the crooks won’t comply anyway?

 

ROYAL COMMISSION REPORT UPDATE

The survivors and families of the victims have now seen the Royal Commission Report into the Christchurch Terrorist Attack. The report is nearly 800 pages and we understand does detail government failings that led to the terrorist getting a firearms licence.

 

The Government has set aside time for Parliament to debate the report on Tuesday afternoon. That means that it will be available to the public either late Monday (likely at the Prime Minister’s media conference at 4pm) or on Tuesday. As soon as we have it, we’ll be working to cut through the Government’s spin and get the facts to you.

 

This week COLFO has been in the media on the release of the report and the suppression of some of the evidence provided to the Commission for 30 years.

 

The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners, meanwhile, is hoping the report will explain how the mosque gunman was able to get a licence. Spokesman Michael Dowling believes gun owners have been unfairly stigmatised as a result of the shooting.

 

“The Government very quickly moved to fix a problem that they hadn't defined and we're hoping that the findings of the Royal Commission will work out where the problems were.”

 

After the Christchurch mosque attack, the Government moved to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, as well as some types of pistols. It also led to the gun buyback scheme, which is estimated to have cost around $150 million. Dowling believes the report will reignite the debate over gun reform.

 

The Government very quickly moved to fix a problem that they hadn't defined and we're hoping that the findings of the Royal Commission will work out where the problems were.

 

The Council of Licenced Firearm Owners (COLFO) is also looking for answers. “We always said, we're more than happy to get on board with firearm legislation if we can understand what went wrong first,” says chairman of COLFO Michael Dowling. 

 

Dowling says if government agencies are at fault for allowing the terrorist to be armed, they should be held accountable.

 

Earlier today we told the media that if the Royal Commission found Police incorrectly gave Brenton Tarrant a firearms licence, the Government will lose its justification for further firearms restrictions - you can read my full statement below.

 

Michael Dowling

Chairman

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners

(on behalf of the Fair and Reasonable Campaign)

 

Keep up with Fair and Reasonable on Facebook.

 

MEDIA RELEASE: ROYAL COMMISSION FINDINGS SHOULD END FIREARM CHANGES

If the Royal Commission into the Christchurch Mosque Shootings found Police incorrectly gave Brenton Tarrant a firearms licence, the Government will lose its justification for further firearms restrictions, according to the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).

 

On the eve of release of the Commission report, COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says the Government confirmed in Parliament last week that it intends to use powers it gave itself last year to arbitrarily impose further restrictions on firearm ownership.

 

The Government gave itself those powers by using every opportunity to link firearms bans and licencing changes to the Christchurch Mosque shootings.”

 

In a judgement on COLFO’s High Court legal case against the Government’s reclassification of types of ammunition, Justice Cooke stated that there was no connection between what the Government defined as prohibited ammunition and the mosque shootings.

 

“Our suspicion is the report will confirm the Government acted rashly, to do something rather than the right thing, the ban and Arms Act will become a case study in irrational law-making.”

 

If Tarrant got a license and firearms due to a Police blunder, then its response was not justified by Tarrant’s actions. It will have made law based on emotional response to the shooting, not evidence. When we get that evidence tomorrow, the justification for more bans and ownership restrictions will evaporate.

 

Our suspicion is the report will confirm the Government acted rashly, to do something rather than the right thing, the ban and Arms Act will become a case study in irrational law-making.

  

Our expert members have yet to see how the amendments made would have prevented Tarrant in an environment where Police did not follow the existing laws they were charged with administering.

 

Questions the Royal Commission should answer:

  • How did an Australian without NZ connections get a licence?
  • To what extent did the process rely on on-line questions and miss face to face assessments?
  • Did Police enquire about Tarrant in Australia? If not, why not?
  • Who did Police contact as character referees? What judgment did they apply to their suitability?
  • Were the character referees required to have known Tarrant for at least three years? If not, why not?
  • Would Police have been better equipped to apply the fit and proper person test to Tarrant if they had not abandoned the previous system that closely involved local non-sworn people?
  • Did Tarrant’s character referees lie to Police; and if so, what has happened to them?
  • Did Tarrant have a licence endorsement that allowed him to purchase the firearm he used to murder his victims? If so, why? If not, was the firearm illegally sourced, and if so, from where?
  • Would he have been able to get the large magazines or other features that facilitated his murders if previous firearms community warnings about gaps in the endorsement system had been acted on?
  • Was anyone found to have attempted to remove or change evidence about the collection of data on Tarrant’s fit and proper status?
  • Were the Minister and Prime Minister told about failures in vetting Tarrant, and if so, why did they subsequently continue with the firearms ban and Arms Act changes knowing they were not related to the murders?
  • If the government did know, why were Police not replaced with a special purpose authority in the law change last year?

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