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Police Association appeals to National to not let politics 'skew the gun debate' as in US

The Police Association has come out swinging against the National Party as Simon Bridges moves to distance the Opposition from supporting the Government's second tranche of gun reforms. 

Association President Chris Cahill said "meaningful gun law reform" in New Zealand had been prevented in the past due to politics. 

"We watch in disbelief how politics skews the gun debate in the United States," he said in a statement today. 

"I am certain New Zealanders do not want to see our politicians go down the oft-trodden road of ignoring the role firearms play in mass shooting after mass shooting, and do nothing about reforming gun laws."

In response to the Police Association, Mr Bridges said "there's no politics".

"It's simply a question of a next reform, a next series of laws that seems to be aimed at good, law abiding people rather than the crims, the gangs, the extremists".

"If the Government changes the law so they get tough on the crims, gangs and extremists, we'll consider supporting it, but at the moment it looks ever much all about getting at law abiding New Zealanders."

He said the first raft of gun reforms "stacked up" and was "the right thing to do". 

"Sadly though, the Government hasn't implemented the buyback reforms at all well."

Draft legislation of the second wave of gun law reform was leaked to the Opposition and obtained by 1 NEWS yesterday. It proposes harsher penalties if gun owners break the law, more regulation of gun clubs and new rules for doctors with concerns about patients holding gun licences. 

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1 NEWS can reveal new details on how it’s likely to work. Source: 1 NEWS

National's police spokesperson Brett Hudson told 1 NEWS he would encourage his colleagues not to back the bill. 

"If they're going to subject law-abiding Kiwis to that kind of scrutiny, surely all that will be achieved is to push mental health issues underground because people simply won't go to their medical practitioner with their problems."

Mr Bridges this morning told TVNZ1's Breakfast the gun buyback scheme had been a "fiasco".

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The National Party leader talked to TVNZ1’s Breakfast about how the buyback scheme has been a “fiasco”. Source: Breakfast

"They haven't put fair market value on the guns and so a small number of thousands have been handed in and there's hundreds of thousands there," he said. 

Mr Bridges added National was reluctant and unlikely to support the second wave of changes, saying it went after law abiding gun owners.

"They're not going after... the baddies, the criminals, the gangs and the extremists," he argued. 

But the Police Association is appealing to National to reconsider its stance. 

"People who say the buy-back is not working have either not been to a buy-back, or have a vested interest in criticising the process," Mr Cahill said.

He said he hoped all MPs would view the suite of firearm reforms "as a once in a generation chance to rid our communities of assault weapons and deliver transparency with respect to how many weapons we have in New Zealand".

"This process is not about punishing the vast majority of firearms owners who are law abiding citizens. It is about making our communities safer and ensuring fair compensation for those who now need to give up certain firearms.

"Tighter firearms regulations mean fewer assault rifles in communities and more stringent rules around gun storage will reduce the number of stolen firearms, the main avenue for criminals procuring guns," Mr Cahill said. 

Source: 1 NEWS