65,000 sign petition against weapons

MPs have today been handed a petition with more than 65,000 signatures calling on them to ban all semi-automatic weapons.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to change New Zealand's firearm laws after the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Cabinet - including the Green Party - decided in principle on reforms on Monday, with the National Party saying it support change.

MPs from Labour, the Greens and National met the petitioners on the steps of Parliament this morning and promised action.

Speaking to those gathered, Finance Minister – and Wellington Central MP – Grant Robertson said announcements about changes to New Zealand’s gun laws would be coming “very, very soon”.

“We will act swiftly; we will act decisively but we also have to keep the conversation going."

I cannot understand why New Zealanders have access to weapons for public sale that were made specifically to kill other humans and that is the case for many of the weapons that are on sale in New Zealand today.”

National’s Upper Hutt MP Chris Bishop said over the past few days, Parliament had been “at its best”.

“I want to acknowledge the leadership of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who has reached out and with her unique blend of empathy and steel and determination brought not only the public of New Zealand with her, but the Parliament of New Zealand as well.”

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said there was "no justification for these types of weapons [semi-automatics] being available in New Zealand".

Brad Knewstubb, who helped start the petition, said New Zealand could send a message to the world by moving quickly on gun control.

"The government's talking about it, people are supporting it, they're giving the government a mandate to make these changes.

Now just hopefully all those voices that came out in such strong support get what they're asking for."

The Police Association has called for semi-automatic weapons to be banned, while Fish & Game said it supported a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and retailer Hunting & Fishing New Zealand has pulled all military-style semi-automatic firearms from sale nationwide.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said there was already a stringent vetting process for firearm licences in this country and military-style semi-automatic weapons should not be banned.

 - additional reporting NZME

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