Shane Jones shrugs off AR-15 controversy - 'People shouldn't catastrophise one Facebook photo'

Government Minister Shane Jones is shrugging off criticism of using an AR-15 gun while on holiday in Thailand, saying "it is what it is".

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The NZ First MP talked about his use of the semi-automatic, now banned in New Zealand, while holidaying in Asia. Source: Breakfast

The rifle is included in the Government's changes to New Zealand gun laws, which include a ban of semi-automatic guns and add-ons in the wake of the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch where 51 people were killed.

Appearing on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, host John Campbell quizzed the New Zealand First MP on the photo posted to Facebook. The question received an eye roll from the minister.

"Why the hell did you put that photo up?" Campbell asked, pointing to the role of AR-15s in multiple mass shootings.

"Look, I think that people shouldn't catastrophise one Facebook photo," Mr Jones responded. 

"It's a timely reminder that if you're a politician who's a headline hussy as myself then you've got to go with the downside. But it's a holiday.

"I'd been riding an elephant. It was a professional, well-run shooting range," he argued.

"I, myself, didn't recognise exactly the type of gun it was. It fired .22 bullets."

Given the rain that day, Mr Jones said, he was left with two tourist options - go to a tiger park and pet the animals or gun range - and he chose the latter.

"It doesn't reflect the fact that I'm resiling from what New Zealand First has agreed to, but hey, it is what it is."