Arms dealer who says he sold ammo to accused mosque shooter says gun restrictions 'effectively destroyed' business

A South Island arms dealer who says he sold ammunition to the man accused of carrying out the March 15 terrorist attacks says changes made to New Zealand gun laws afterwards have "effectively destroyed" his business.

A file image of an AR-15 style assault rifle. Source: Pexels

Brenton Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and his trial will begin on June 2 next year.

Following the attacks, the government passed the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019, which broadly restricted semi-automatic and military-style weapons and ammunition.

The government's Finance and Expenditure Committee is now considering submissions on the Arms Legislation Bill, which would create a firearms register.

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Lawful firearms owners have strongly criticised the Bill, saying it will not make New Zealand any safer, with one of their main arguments being that criminals most likely to commit gun crime are unlikely to be lawful owners who abide by the rules.

Yesterday, Paul McNeill, owner of Aoraki Ammunition Company, made a submission to the Committee in which he said "since the attack, our business has been effectively destroyed by the changing legislation.

"We have stock we can not sell, ammunition that is now prohibited, and assets that are now worthless," Mr McNeill said in his written submission.

"The latest legislation is poorly thought out and will not assist with reducing the likelihood of a repeat offence."

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He presented a police form at the select committee showing police approved the legal sale of 2320 rounds of ammunition to Tarrant on December 11, 2017, which were provided by Aoraki Ammunition.

Mr McNeill's oral submission to the Committee on Friday was interrupted after MPs became concerned his comments could have an effect on the pending court case or the Royal Commission into the attacks.

His written submission was also removed from the Parliament website for a period, before the Finance and Expenditure Committee confirmed yesterday that it had been reinstated following consultation.

"In light of some of the matters raised in the submission, the committee took a cautious approach as they did not want to involve themselves in any matters that could affect any future court case or the Royal Commission of Inquiry," the Committee said.

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Mr McNeill also said in his submission that he and his family were "appalled" to hear of the attack, and criticised the speed at which Tarrant was granted a firearms licence after arriving in New Zealand.

"The proposed changes in the Legislation do not address the lack of vetting and referees that allowed Mr Tarrant to obtain his licence," Mr McNeill wrote.

"Registration of firearms is an undue burden on law-abiding individuals - and it is only the law-abiding individual who complies.

"The onerous requirements on gun clubs, ranges, individuals etc will simply drive the use of firearms underground."

Submissions on the Bill close on November 29.