The gun control divide in New Zealand

Every so often there is a move to further regulate gun ownership and the permitted uses around them in New Zealand. Sometimes it is the result of concern about patterns in gun ownership and registration. Sometimes it is the Green lobby trying to reduce their role in New Zealand society. And sometimes it is the result of a spike in gun crime.

Whatever the case, it is something that is guaranteed to arouse controversy, and not necessarily for the right or otherwise proper reasons.

Most New Zealand gun owners are moderate, but there is a fringe at both ends of the spectrum who become verbally aggressive and agitated if they believe that their views are being persecuted. Andrea Vance reports misogynistic abuse and threats of violence being made against Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage for her decision on the Tahr cull.

The National Rifle Association of New Zealand could not be more different if it tried to its American counter part. The N.R.A.N.Z. is quiet, promotes compliance with the existing gun laws in New Zealand. No doubt it has its views on control as it is entitled to under New Zealand law. The N.R.A. of America is under its laws, and not least because of the Second Amendment, entitled to its views. But that is where the similarities end. The latter is highly active in politics, actively lobbies against any changes to gun control laws in the United States. It has even gone so far as to attack Australia for implementing gun control after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, when gun man Martin Bryant shot dead 35 people in a rampage in Tasmania.

I have no problems myself with the firearms code or the legal requirements around obtaining a license. I would only suggest that a firearm cannot be owned by a person with a firearm licence until they are 18 years of age.

However I believe that the laws for buying/selling importing/exporting firearms should change:

  1. All firearms entering and exiting New Zealand should arrive through a licenced firearms dealer. As this is an added responsibility, an administrative fee would handling the exchange of firearms would be acceptable.
  2. All firearms being bought must come from a licenced dealer.
  3. When sold they must go back through the dealer who will have a storage area and require both the seller and the buyer to present their current licences
  4. Ammunition purchases should require photo ID to be presented

After the Defence Force brought guns to a school a couple of years ago, there was a huge outcry and M.P.’s on both sides of the House of Representatives railed about it. Showing the weapons to primary school students is probably too early, but a show and tell display at Intermediate would be acceptable, assuming the personnel there did not allow the children to handle the firearms. If there are any agencies best suited to showing students how to safely use guns, one is the Police and the other is the Defence Force.

Children are going to have a natural curiosity around guns, so it is essential that they learn how to safely use them in a controlled environment. This is why it is essential that rifle clubs continue to operate at High Schools. I was a member of my High School’s rifle club in 1998-99 and it was great fun. We learnt how to competitively shoot. We were entered into the Winchester Postal Competition. During 1999 I was one of the top shots in the school with three scores over 90.0 out 100.10.





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