For 48 hours earlier this week, Parliament and New Zealand were abuzz with the news that there would be short submission period on emergency legislation banning Military Style Semi-Automatics and Automatic weapons. The legislation which is working its way through Parliament, comes in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack on 15 March 2019.
On Friday with submissions closed, the Select Committee began the massive task of making sense of all of the submissions (more than 3,000 at the end of Wednesday). It will have to work fast because Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated that the law will be passed in two to three weeks.
Ultimately now that the law has passed the submission stage, the expectation that Parliament will come back and address the concerns that it blithely skipped over during the 48 hour consultation period is very real. It is real for all of the right reasons:
- The speed, whilst being emergency legislation, was nonetheless very dangerous to the democratic principles on which this country was founded
- The speed of the legislation meant that many with technical knowledge and experience operating firearms have been sidelined because they could not get a submission in that 48 hour period
- The legislation will have a host of mistakes in it for lack of time to properly proof read, and make sure no unintended consequences exist based on ones interpretation
- A failure to address this now means that there is a higher probability of Parliament being made to repeal the legislation entirely later and possibly coming in with some sort of watered down law
There is, I have been told, by an Amnesty International New Zealand staff member, a second opportunity which will be more prolonged for the public to make submissions on the law. I assume that interpretation means that this is a stop gap measure and that as such it will expire when more robust legislation is implemented sometime from now.
This absolutely had better be the case. When I mention people with technical knowledge and experience, I am talking about those who regularly handle such weapons in places like shooting ranges, people who supply and repair gun cabinets, gun parts and guns themselves.
Legislation has a very precise wording and format that it must take when being drafted. It also has certain Parliamentary conventions to follow. Failure to do this I assume has the potential to render the legislation inoperable, which would no doubt delight some people and organizations. An example of the format can be found here.
In its current state the emergency law must have a sunset clause. It cannot be more than temporary whilst longer term legislation is put through Parliament.
I now wait, as I am sure many many other New Zealanders do too, to see what form this emergency legislation finishes its trip through Parliament in. I then expect that Parliament will start work on the longer term legislation so that certainty can be restored to our gun laws, whilst at the same time making New Zealand and New Zealanders, safer.