A Submission to the Arms Act Select CommitteeBy David Mack
- 24th Nov, 2019 Nov 24, 2019, 12:00 AM
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Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission to the Select Committee on the recently proposed changes to the Arms Act. I have lawfully owned and used firearms for over fifty years. I have an unblemished record and have taught my two children to be safe and responsible gun owners and shooters.
I chose New Zealand as my home over 30 years ago precisely because this country has firearms legislation which allows legitimate sporting shooters and collectors to pursue their interests without undue bureaucratic interference while maintaining a high level of public safety and security. It was a failure of Police to follow proper procedure which allowed the events at Christchurch to take place not a failure of the law.
Who would have thought, prior to March 15th this year, that the actions of one foreign born terrorist could manipulate and subvert the entire government of a supposedly mature democracy founded on the principles of the Mother of Parliaments?
The deranged Australian perpetrator of New Zealand’s worst mass murder in history set out very clearly in a “manifesto” published online his motives and what he hoped to achieve by his heinous act of cold blooded slaughter.
That our government moved so quickly to ban New Zealanders from reading this manifesto, which answered many of the questions that people were legitimately entitled to ask, on pain of significant prison time is a stain on our democracy.
The hastily passed law mandating the confiscation of a whole range of firearms, many of which are of great historical and sentimental significance to their owners, lawfully purchased and owned without any problems at all flew in the face of long established principles of enacting legislation only after proper consultation and much consideration. The resultant bad legislation seems already to be proving a costly failure which will not in any sense achieve its stated aim of “making us all safer.”
The attitude of a good many NZ gun owners towards this first round of law changes is summed up in this comment I received from a Canadian correspondent:
“I considered selling my guns to the government. But I did a background check on the government and found them to be prone to violence, unstable and mentally unfit. Therefore, in the interests of public safety, I’ll keep my guns in my possession where they’ve never hurt anyone and will be well maintained and used responsibly. Thanks, but no thanks government. Have a nice day!”
Now this committee is set to consider a second round of legislation to be enacted before the Royal Commission has even reported back on the event which inspired the new Act. This smacks of a pre conceived plan to use the Christchurch massacre purely as a pretext in much the same way that the highly convenient Port Arthur massacre was used by the Howard government some twenty years ago.
“That our government moved so quickly to ban New Zealanders from reading this manifesto, which answered many of the questions that people were legitimately entitled to ask, on pain of significant prison time is a stain on our democracy.”
Other submitters more eloquent than I am will deconstruct the flaws and the pointless nature of many of the proposed law changes especially regarding such things as licencing and registration of gun clubs, a reduced licencing period and, especially, the introduction of a universal gun registry. So often pushed by the same deluded people who think gun bans make us safer, a register would be a huge waste of taxpayer’s money. Inspector John Coote, NZ Police, was invited to Canada in the early nineties to explain NZ’s firearms licencing system and he strongly advised them not to introduce a register.
The Canadians ignored Insp. Coote’s advice and wasted two billion dollars on Bill C95 before abandoning the whole project because it produced no measurable benefit in either crime solving or prevention. John Coote’s successor, Inspector Joe Green, had this
to say about registration:
“Some might promote the so called efficacy of universal registration as a control measure. A previous Select Committee has gathered considerable data on this. In short, registration of general firearms is inaccurate, unwieldy and costly (hence abandoned by Canada). Benefits will be overstated and costs understated by those promoting this approach. Even Thorp prevaricated on universal registration!”
It is also worth noting that Justice Thorp pointed out that though New Zealand has a high rate of civilian firearms ownership (20th in the world) our firearms crime rate is among the lowest or as
Justice Thorp described it “statistically insignificant” and “vanishingly small.” Christchurch and the rantings of anti-gun zealots like Chris Cahill of the Police Association and the mad cat ladies of Otago University aside very little has changed since Justice Thorp made those observations.
You will no doubt be aware that Australia’s gun registry is proving to be virtually worthless, inaccurate and pointless, a waste of taxpayer funds but I hope the Committee will consider why no mention is made in the new legislation of establishing a register of stolen firearms which the police currently do not have.
Even if they find a firearm in the course of their duties which, miraculously, still has its serial number intact they have no way of knowing where it came from even though it is already the law that an owner must notify the police if a firearm is stolen from them. Such a register would be small, easily maintained and might actually prove useful to police and the gun owning public.
I also hope the Committee will take particular note of the fact that all the measures proposed will only affect law abiding licenced gun owners who are manifestly not a problem and had nothing whatsoever to do with the events at Christchurch. The proposed Act does absolutely nothing to deter or prevent the criminal misuse of firearms by gangs and other criminals indeed it is hard to find even a mention of such people in the government’s many statements on the matter.
“The proposed Act does absolutely nothing to deter or prevent the criminal misuse of firearms by gangs and other criminals indeed it is hard to find even a mention of such people in the government’s many statements on the matter.”
In closing I would like to remind the Committee that Colin Greenwood, until his death in 2017 Britain’s foremost expert on firearms legislation, wrote after a visit to New Zealand, “at least one country has got its firearms legislation right.”
New Zealand had/has the best, most effective and cost effective system of firearms licencing and regulation in the world and it would be very foolish and counter – productive to make ill-considered changes to align with some foreign set agenda by politicians who have scant knowledge or understanding of the important role firearms play and have played in our history and culture since the first arrival of Captain James Cook.
I thank you for your consideration.
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