Submissions on gun law reforms heard in Parliament

By Talisa Kupenga

Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee has heard public submissions on the Arms Amendment Bill, which will fast-track the ban of most types of semi-automatic rifles.  More than 10,000 submissions have been received.

More than 10,000 submissions have been received and more than 20 oral submissions were heard today.

Muslim community representatives say every reason not to support the bill is outweighed by "50 reasons you must" in reference the lives lost in the Christchurch shootings.

The Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand’s Dr Mustafa Farouk says, "I'm here to represent some of those people who are not able to be here because they are dead.  They are dead because they have been killed using the kind of weapon that this legislation is trying to take out of circulation."

Most submitters support reform but some thought the amnesty period should be longer, others took issue with the speed of the legislation and one thought some guns like center-fire shotguns did not need to be banned.

Questions were also raised about the ability of police to store the collected weapons safely.

New Zealand's largest firearms dealer and Gun City owner David Tipple says he wanted the empathy and unity shown post-shootings extended to legal gun owners but that would not happen if this law is passed in its present form.

"If you pass this law in its present form you will be letting him [the shooter] win.  A-category guns could be modified so they could not take larger magazines instead of changing the law."

Analysis from Gun City suggests the firearms buyback would cost $750mil, more than three times the up to $200mil estimate from government.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says, "You'll understand that it's a difficult calculation to make because we have to estimate the number of weapons that are in circulation becasue we don't have a record of them."

The possible downgrading of weapons instead of destroying them was raised by NZ Fish Game and Council’s Martin Taylor.

“You can permanently alter a shotgun from seven shots to five and if that is a choice that certainly is a cheaper choice for government because instead of spending $2,500 to buy it back you can pay $200 perhaps to get it altered."  

Robertson says, “That's not something that we're taking into consideration at the moment but you would have to talk to the police about that."

Police Minister Stuart Nash says, "If that is something that is being presented by a submitter then no doubt the select committee will take a look at it and present it."

Possible changes to the bill will be considered and reported back to Parliament Monday.

Police say the man arrested in related to the Christchurch attacks will be face 50 murder and 39 attempted murder charges when he appears in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow.