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Making the Arms Amendment Bill useful

Making the Arms Amendment Bill useful

ACT will bring a fresh new concept to the Arms Amendment Bill debate when it has its first reading in Parliament this afternoon, ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"ACT has given notice of detailed amendments long before the bill even reaches select committee. As soon as I know which committee it is going to, I will ask the committee to get official reports covering the amendments as well.

Mr Franks said ACT was urging submitters to comment on the amendments. They can be found on www.act.org.nz/armssop.

"Supplementary Order Papers to amend bills are usually lodged after the select committee has reported. In fact I don't know if an SOP has ever before been introduced before a bill's first reading. The topic is controversial and of great interest to many people," Mr Franks said.

"I want Parliament to consider some real issues on a bill that is otherwise just politically correct tinkering with sound firearms law. Police Minister George Hawkins is inserting United Nations requirements so that the Phil Goff can please his Foreign Affairs officials.

"The amendments are prompted by the fate of people like Northland farmer Paul McIntyre, who may lose his farm to pay legal costs on an Arms Act charge, even though he has already been acquitted on the main charge of using a firearm to try and stop people who were stealing his quad bike.

"The amendments restore the right lost in 1983 law changes to use force in self-defence, where the victims reasonably fear they are at risk of harm from an unprovoked offender, or where a crime will continue if self-defence is not used.

"I believe the state has no right to punish citizens for defending themselves and their property when the state cannot defend them. George Hawkins has made it clear in answers to parliamentary questions that he has no answer for people, far from police assistance, who are facing vicious thieves and thugs. The law tells the courts to recite the sanctimonious instruction `you must not take the law into your own hands' even when there are no other hands to take it.

"The law would require a court to order payment of the legal costs of a crime victim who has successfully defended Arms Act charges by showing that it was legitimate self-defence.

"This is not a `make my day' law, authorising open slather on intruders. A defender will remain liable if the force used against an intruder is grossly disproportionate'.

"We know the police can never protect every one, everywhere. The sensible founders of modern policing never expected them to do so. That is why the Crimes Act has extensive citizens arrest provisions, even though the police today try to tell people they must not use them.

If we could get back to the low crime security we all enjoyed before self-defence rights were taken away, every honest New Zealander would be grateful.


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