As written submissions on gun law reform passed 12,000, MPs in a Select Committee today heard from prominent groups on the proposed laws set to ban military semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles.
Federation of Islamic Associations NZ
The federation's president Dr Mustafa Farouk, who spoke at last week's National Remembrance Service, said he was speaking today not as "an expert on weapons", instead he was "here to represent some of those people who are not able to be here today, because they are dead".
"They are dead because they have been killed using the kind of weapons that this legislation is trying to take out of circulation."
He said he appreciated some people in New Zealand use the weapons as hobbies, but added that should not outweigh the greater good of society.
"I strongly support this legislation. This legislation should only be a starting point. There should be stronger legislation to follow."
Former army officer and Muslim Brent Smith, who worked with weapons and weapons safety, told the select committee those types of weapons "should only be in the hands of the military and police".
He said converting some of the types of semi-automatic weapons to the automatic mode could be done "quite simply", and stressed the importance of strengthening gun storage legislation.
Rehanna Ali of the federation said it was not "on the basis of emotion we speak to you here today, but with terrible experience".
"What ever reasons might be bought to bear for not supporting this legislation, can never outweigh the 50 reasons we carry with us today."
"Each of those reasons is a human life. One life would be reason enough."
She said they also were speaking on behalf on minority groups in New Zealand that may feel more vulnerable because "we appear different".
"We want to reclaim the country we had before March 15, we want to reassert the values of who we are as New Zealanders."
Gun City's David Tipple
Mr Tipple of Christchurch's Gun City told the Select Committee it was the alleged gunman's "primary objective to divide us".
"Quite the reverse has occurred, this tragedy has created an unprecedented unity throughout our country."
However, he said that "rushing this feel-good law is causing division".
"It is bad law and it will result in serious injustices."
Mr Tipple said there were no loop-holes in the current law, instead the alleged offenderused a 30-round magazine and the solution was instead a seven-round limited magazine, and to permanently modify A-category guns to prevent large magazines from being fitted.
"If you pass this law in its present form, you will be helping him win".
Mr Tipple said the legislation did not address how the alleged offender got a gun licence. He also said that for guns to return to 'suppliers' would be a difficult task as many were created for New Zealand conditions and exporting overseas would create issues.
"Bad law causes uncertainty, injustice and division. This law is bad."
This morning chair of the committee, Labour's Michael Wood, asked Martin Taylor of NZ Fish and Game if some semi-automatic firearms were needed for shooting certain types of birds and pests.
"Military style semi-automatic weapons have no place in New Zealand, they never did, they never should have been allowed in the first place," Mr Taylor said.
Fish and Game expressed concern over the timing of the amnesty for gun owners to hand in weapons and ammunition that could be banned by law change proposals. They currently have until September 30.
They said due to the number of semi-automatic shotguns, the buy back scheme "is likely to take considerably longer than six months, which means the amnesty period will need to be extended until the end of the buy back".
Joe Green of Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa NZ told the MPs the "systemic management of arms control and the failure in that are a contributing factor" of the outcome of the March 15 terrorist attack.
In his written submission, Mr Green wrote the alleged offender "was able to obtain firearms because of systemic failures of the New Zealand police to vet him as fit and proper, thereby issuing a firearms licence when he was not fit and proper to have one".
He also asked for a longer period for the Select Committee to hear submissions on the Bill.
Rural Women NZ supported the ban on military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles and wanted more education around the use of firearms. They surveyed 250 of their members via social media, with 88 per cent in favour of the gun law changes.
They also asked if their members thought semi-automatic weapons were needed on farms, with 60 per cent responding, "no".
Law Society's incoming president Tiana Epati said there was limited time to consider the Bill.
"We appreciate the need for a swift legislative response but believe that this could have been achieved while still allowing an adequate period, such as five working days, for public input.
"More to the law society’s concern would be inadvertent drafting errors and unintended consequences that may result from rushed drafting."
The Prime Minister was asked about criticism today in Hamilton that the gun law changes were moving too fast to create adequate legislation.
"What I've heard is an overwhelming consensus for the principle of this legislation, which is to permanently ban military style assault weapons and rifles. Given there is such support for that we are moving quickly to remove them," Ms Ardern said.
"The principle of this legislation is very straightforward. [It's a] very basic piece of legislation."
This afternoon ACT leader David Seymour presented a petition with 15,768 signatures calling for an "in-depth public consultation period" on gun law reform.
"Good intentions and quick action don’t guarantee satisfactory outcomes. There is very real danger that, in its haste, Parliament will make bad law with unexpected outcomes," Mr Seymour said.
He called the speed the bill was going through Parliament "illogical and hazardous".
"It has already stopped the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles to people with A category gun licences. We must get these changes right to ensure they’re effective."
The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee took advice from officials on Tuesday shortly after the First Reading of the Bill.
The Arms Amendment Act passed its First Reading that evening, with public submissions closing today. Today was the only day it heard public submitters.
The Bill is set to return to the House next week, with deputy PM Winston Peters telling media on Monday he hoped it would be law by Friday, April 12.
The first phase of changes are to be set out as:
- Ban semi-automatics weapons and military style semi-automatics.
- Ban parts, magazine and ammunition used to assemble prohibited firearm or convert a lower powered firearm to semi automatic.
- Ban pump actions shotguns with more than a five shot capacity.
- Ban semi-automatic shotguns with capacity for detachable magazine.
- Create penalties and introduce new offences.
- Create new definitions of prohibited firearms, magazines.
- Establish an amnesty for firearm owners to take steps to hand over unlawful weapons, parts, magazines and ammunition by September 30.