Government Silencing New Zealand Firearms Owners
TUESDAY 1 OCTOBER 2019
The Government’s decision to ban emailed submissions on the second tranche of firearms law changes is a deliberate ploy to stop thousands of law-abiding people from having their say, says the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).
“Police Minister Stuart Nash says it’s important we hear from all New Zealanders on these law changes, yet many of us will be denied our basic democratic right to do just that,” says COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“The Minister’s words are nothing more than lip-service. The select committee has imposed rules that are a deliberate attempt to stop grassroots organisations such as COLFO and its supporters from making their voices heard on totally unfair and unworkable proposals.”
As well as an unusually shortened consultation process, the committee’s decision not to accept emailed submissions unfairly penalises people in rural and provincial centres in particular.
“The Government is shifting the posts to ensure it gets an outcome it’s already decided on,” says McKee. “That’s not fair and certainly not the way any law should be made. Their goal is to ram through a law that that won’t do anything to make people safer by deliberately skirting due process.”
COLFO says the Government should take it proposed firearms legislation to the people with a touring select committee, as it did with the Zero Carbon Bill.
“If both are issues of national interest that impact on ‘every person in the community’, as this Government says both are, then go out and talk to ordinary people about this bill, too,” says McKee.
“Take the select committee on the road. Be transparent, just as you’ve promised you would be. Hear from those most affected. Hear the evidence that shows just how ill-conceived these latest proposals are, rather than cherry-picking stuff to arrive at a pre-determined outcome that will do nothing improve the safety of New Zealanders, while punishing good, decent people.”
McKee says COLFO is also seriously concerned about suggestions from officials that pro-forma submissions from different people will be counted as just one submission.
“We understand that if our supporters’ submissions are too similar, they will be grouped together and counted as one submission. That means if 10,000 of our supporters make similar submissions against the bill, they’ll be lumped together and counted once.
“It’s another way of denying our people a say. We wonder if the same standard will apply to submissions from those groups and individuals that are supporting these unfair proposals.”