Feds disagree with handling of Arms Bill

Miles Anderson
Miles Anderson
The rush to pass the Arms Amendment Bill was not satisfactory in the view of Federated Farmers' national security spokesman Miles Anderson, of South Canterbury.

''I think the Government's ban on the sale of automatic firearms on the Wednesday following the Christchurch atrocity would have sufficed.

''Then it would have given time to do a law change properly. The Bill has made no difference to the number of firearms out in the public - they're still out there.

''There could have been a better process.''

Mr Anderson was one of about 20 people who had one day to make oral submissions to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Bill.

''There would have been thousands of other submissions but, again, they did not get the opportunity to be heard; it was most unusual.''

He was disappointed the Government did not accept an exemption for farmers who had a genuine need for centrefire semi-automatic rifles to be used in areas with large numbers of pests.

''There are thousands of farmers who are dealing with large pest populations.''

He said this was an issue throughout the country.

''Here in South Canterbury, we have an expanding wallaby population. Goats and deer are a problem in the North Island.

''Canada geese are an increasing problem around the country.''

The Bill has allowed professional pest control contractors to use semi-automatic firearms with large magazines but Mr Anderson said there were insufficient pest control contractors to adequately deal with the pest numbers.

''There are not many contractors and often there are large distances between properties.

''It's best that the landowner deals with them (pests) when they come across them; if you don't deal with them immediately an incursion moves on to someone else's property.

''If you engage a contractor and you have them scheduled on a certain date, that can change due to problems with the weather or whatever, and then when they finally get there the pests are just not around.''

Mr Anderson said there were complicating factors with pest control as there were with the Government's buy-back scheme in which now-illegal guns purchased legally before the Arms Amendment Bill could be surrendered to police for a fair price.

''It's not the law-abiding citizens you have to worry about; non-law abiding citizens won't hand them in and there is no register of their firearms.

''The police and other agencies are unaware who has them.''

He said it was essential the Government communicated accurately with gunowners as to what was legal and what was not.

-By Chris Tobin

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