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Gun law changes face opposition

Opinion Piece

The inclusion of a gun register in the Government’s second tranche of new firearms legislation looks like becoming a sticking point, which would be a tragedy.

The first round of changes had unanimous support from all parties in Parliament, but the proposed register is opposed by National and ACT, while New Zealand First has expressed doubts.

National sees the register as costly, cumbersome and impinging unfairly on the rights of innocent gun owners. The Opposition believes the Government is not doing enough to address the real problem of guns being in the hands of criminals.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pursue legal challenges to the new and proposed law changes.

On the other hand, a register is supported by the Police Association and recently formed organisation Gun Control New Zealand.

Creating the register is certainly a huge task. It is estimated to cost between $42 million and $52m, and it is believed it would take five years to fill the register.

The need for a register was included in a 1997 report on gun legislation compiled by former Gisborne man Sir Thomas Thorp.

Gun owners will also oppose the change announced on Monday that would require them to renew their licences every five years rather than 10.

Meanwhile, the cost of the Government’s buy-back programme is continuing to rise. An injection of $40m from ACC has increased the funds available to $208m, and there are still doubts this will be enough.

Gun owners have responded to the buy-back scheme in a responsible way, although the TV news clip of a grinning man saying he got more than he paid for the weapon was not helpful.

The deaths of 51 innocent people in the March disaster in Christchurch made it certain the first tranche of changes would go through, but things will be a lot tighter from now on.