Club president favours changes but not total ban

Grant Dodson holds a Beretta sporting-style semi-automatic shotgun, used for clay disc target shooting, at the Dunedin Clay Target Club range in Waldronville yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Grant Dodson holds a Beretta sporting-style semi-automatic shotgun, used for clay disc target shooting, at the Dunedin Clay Target Club range in Waldronville yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A Dunedin gun club member has joined calls for new restrictions on military-style semi-automatic weapons in New Zealand.

However, Dunedin Clay Target Club president Grant Dodson has also urged the Government not to ban all semi-automatic weapons used by hunters and recreational shooters.

Mr Dodson was speaking days after 50 people were killed, and 50 more injured, some of them critically, in the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques.

The accused gunman, Brenton Tarrant, is said to have used a collection of military-style semi-automatic weapons in the attack.

In the immediate aftermath, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already promised a law change was coming.

Mr Dodson said that was inevitable and, in his personal view, needed to happen.

The Government should also institute a buy-back scheme, as happened in Australia following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, to remove as many military-style weapons from society as possible.

''Our sport, and in fact most shooting sports in New Zealand, have no need for those military guns.''

There were some exceptions - such as the use of AR-15 assault rifles for mass pest control operations - which meant an outright ban was a step too far, he said.

Instead, such weapons should be restricted to the highest level of licence possible, and only sold when there was a legitimate need, he said.

However, other types of sporting semi-automatic weapons - those without expanded magazines or other military enhancements - still had a legitimate role, he said.

Most duck-shooters used semi-automatic shotguns capable of firing four or five times before having to be reloaded, as did members of his clay-shooting club, he said.

Those guns were ''far less of a threat'' to the public, and an outright ban risked sowing division unnecessarily, he said.

''Firearms laws must change. It's just about getting the balance right.''

Mr Dodson said his club, established in the 1870s, had about 60 members, who were ''just appalled'' by the events in Christchurch.

None owned military-style semi-automatic weapons, because it ''just isn't what we do'', but he had encountered such weaponry.

''I've been a recreational shooter for years, and I've come across the odd person who's got one from time to time.

''I've had a bit of a blast with one out in the forest every now and again, but I don't own any and I have never intended to own any.''

Mr Dodson said he had never met Tarrant and the club had no record of him visiting its Waldronville range.

Tarrant had been a member of the Bruce Rifle Club, near Milburn, and practised shooting an AR-15 and a hunting rifle at its range.

A former member has alleged some club members showed signs of white nationalist tendencies, but Mr Dodson said he had never encountered such behaviour.

''There's ... a number of people who do like shooting military-style guns down there. I'm aware of that but I don't know who they are. I couldn't comment on their attitudes.''

His own club had a vetting process for new members, which did not involve a police check, but there had been ''a very small number of instances'' in which ''unusual'' people had tried to join, he said.

In one case, police had been informed and the applicant did not get a firearms licence as a result, he said.

''We love our sport ... The last thing any of us want is some nutter spoiling it.

''And, of course, we're all people, too - we don't want to get shot by some vigilante or terrorist any more than you do.''


all semi automatic guns MUST be banned, especially in Dunedin. More people have been shot and killed by Dundin residents than any other city in NZ. Hope the mayor's proud!

"Hope the mayor's proud!" - what an absolutely stupid thing to say.

Like you are implying that somehow the mayor of Dunedin is in some way responsible? That is taking a hate of Dave Cull to a new level.