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Deerstalkers promise active role in firearm law debate


The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association says it will take an active role in the debate on proposed firearm law changes to ensure any future legislation is fair, reasonable and meets the needs of both firearm owners and the general public.

The government has just announced its second step in changing firearm laws in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacres.

The Prime Minister says the new changes will include a national register for all firearms, tighter restrictions on who can hold a firearms licence and a ban on visitors to New Zealand from buying any guns.

Deerstalkers’ Association firearms spokesperson Bill O’Leary says his organisation will be actively involved in the debate shaping the new laws, including making submissions to the Parliamentary Select Committee considering the issue.

“The Deerstalkers Association is a responsible organisation representing nearly ten thousand hunters throughout the country,” Mr O’Leary says.

“We are committed to representing the best interests of those members while taking into account the concerns of the wider community.

“Our members are responsible. Any changes to existing laws must be reasonable, practical and not punish these law abiding New Zealanders,” he says.

Bill O’Leary wants more details about some of the proposed changes, including increasing the cost of firearm licences.

“This is too big and important an issue to be de-railed by a fixation on some outdated, hardline user pays economic theory,” Mr O’Leary says.

“Firearm owners are happy to pay a reasonable fee for the privilege but if these law changes are being made for public safety, health and security reasons, then most of that cost properly lies with the government.

“A punitive fee will not achieve the government’s aims,” he warns.

Bill O’Leary says the Deerstalkers Association is prepared to listen to the case for firearms registration as announced by the Prime Minister yesterday.

“We are prepared to consider the government’s proposals of how such a scheme will work,” he says.

“However, what we are worried about is that the overseas experience of such registration systems shows they are hugely expensive and don’t work. Because of that, we suggest the money would be better spent on proper and timely enforcement of existing laws.”

The Deerstalkers Association says any law changes must focus on law breakers and carry appropriate penalties which reflect the seriousness of such offending.

“We want a significant enforcement effort put into policing firearm laws and rooting out law breakers, not cracking down on the easy targets of responsible firearm owners who obey the law,” Bill O’Leary says.

“That sort of enforcement will cost money and we want sufficient funding to ensure that existing and future firearm laws are properly administered.

“If police are going to be responsible for overseeing the new laws rather than an independent body, then firearm funding must be ring-fenced to ensure that money is not diverted elsewhere in the police budget.

“This has not always been the case in the past and we want any new law to make police properly accountable” Bill O’Leary says.

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