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Police Association calls for political unity on firearms law

The New Zealand Police Association is concerned the National Party has announced it intends encouraging politicians to reject the second tranche of firearms legislation, due for introduction later next month.

Association President Chris Cahill said that contrary to claims by National that the firearms buy-back was a “fiasco” Police have noted firearms owners’ reactions to the process as “outstanding” and “really engaged”.

“Every indication I have from police running the buy-back collection points is that after well over 100 events, the process is going extremely well. About 15,000 firearms have been handed in and more than $23 million has so far been paid for the now prohibited guns and parts,” Mr Cahill said.

“People who say the buy-back is not working have either not been to a buy-back, or have a vested interest in criticising the process. Some who claim there are problems are the very people encouraging firearms owners to hold off handing in their guns, or soliciting funds to pay for a legal challenge to the scheme.

“They are not helping the process at all.”

“I hope that all politicians, including National Party politicians, see the suite of firearms reforms as a once in a generation chance to rid our communities of assault weapons and deliver transparency with respect to how many weapons we have in New Zealand,” Mr Cahill said.

“This process is not about punishing the vast majority of firearms owners who are law abiding citizens. It is about making our communities safer and ensuring fair compensation for those who now need to give up certain firearms.”

“In no way is this a case of Police easing up on criminals with guns, be they gangs or extremists. Tighter firearms regulations mean fewer assault rifles in communities and more stringent rules around gun storage will reduce the number of stolen firearms – the main avenue for criminals procuring guns.

“There are already laws in place for dealing with gun crimes and people who illegally hold firearms, and, as Operation Gun Safe proves, illegally held firearms are constantly being seized by Police.”

Mr Cahill said that in the past, politics had prevented meaningful gun law reform and the last thing New Zealand needed now was a repeat of that cycle.

“We watch in disbelief how politics skews the gun debate in the United States. I am certain New Zealanders do not want to see our politicians go down the oft-trodden road of ignoring the role firearms play in mass shooting after mass shooting, and do nothing about reforming gun laws,” Mr Cahill said.

“I sincerely appeal to the National Party to reconsider calling the buy-back a fiasco and a failure, and instead work through the select committee process to pass much needed gun law reform.”

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