New gun control group pushes for national register

Police Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannan shows lawmakers in Wellington an AR-15 style rifle similar to one of the weapons allegedly used in the mosque attacks. Photo: AP
Police Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannan shows lawmakers in Wellington an AR-15 style rifle similar to one of the weapons allegedly used in the mosque attacks. Photo: AP
A new lobby group is pushing for a national register of all guns in New Zealand, strengthening the ban on semi-automatic weapons, and requiring gun owners to renew their registration every three years.

Gun Control NZ launched today and is co-founded by volunteers Hera Cook, an Otago University public health researcher, Nik Green, who started a petition to ban semi-automatic weapons, and Philippa Yasbek, who has experience with regulation and legislation.

The group's launch follows the Government's first stage of gun law reform, which was a response to the Christchurch terror attack that took 51 lives.

That reform banned most semi-automatic military-style weapons and their parts, with some narrow exemptions including for farm pest control, collectors, heirlooms and mementos.

Possession of prohibited firearms could see a jail term up to five years, though an amnesty is in place until the end of September while the Government works through the detail of a buy-back scheme.

Cook said the changes were a good first step, but the co-founders wanted to establish the group to give a voice to the majority of New Zealanders who want change.

"Parliament recently banned most semi-automatic weapons, but until there is full control of these weapons, and a register of all guns, the risk remains of them falling into the wrong hands," Cook said.

"Gun Control NZ will give voice to the majority of New Zealanders who want to ensure the next generation inherits a country free from the danger of gun violence."

Gun licences currently have to be renewed every 10 years, but Gun Control wanted to shorten that to three years.

Yasbek said hunting and shooting sports had a long history in New Zealand.

"We support properly vetted people being able to own registered rifles and shotguns, so long as those guns are not semi-automatic."

The Government is currently working through the second round of gun law reform, which will look at whether a national register of firearms is needed, the vetting process for a "fit and proper" person to obtain a gun licence, and the police inspection and monitoring regime, including rules around storage.

Previous reports, including one in 1997 by retired judge Sir Thomas Thorp, called for a national register of guns, but successive Parliaments did not have the will or the support to put one in place.


Legitimate endorsed firearms license holders are already one of the most highly regulated, vetted, and monitored groups in society. But like all other minority groups in society, they make a good target for the rest of society to bully. When the Olympic Games are on, everyone cheers our competitive shooters, and celebrates the medals they win.

When criminals, who are not legitimate endorsed firearms license holders, commit crimes with guns the politicians make mileage out of bullying the legitimate firearms owners further. This has nothing to do with community safety. It has everything to do with political point scoring.

It always has been illegal for criminals to illegally possess firearms. It is illegal for criminals to smuggle drugs and illegal firearms into the country. Winston Peters even said “the gangs are going to have to hand their illegal weapons over to the police”. Unfortunately, police workload has not been increased by gang members rushing to police stations to hand in their illegal weapons.

It’s a rather novel idea, but perhaps police resource could be funded to destroy organised crime rather than wasted on bullying legitimate sports shooters.

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