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ACT To Push For Serious Changes To Arms Legislation Bill

“ACT will be pushing for serious changes to the Arms Legislation Bill when it returns to Parliament next week,” says Leader David Seymour.

“Ultimately, we would like to see the law completely abandoned. But assuming the Government presses ahead, ACT will attempt to secure major amendments to the bill.

“NZ First has reached an agreement with Labour on the committee stage and there’s no doubt it will attempt to present itself as the saviour of the gun community. The reality is that Winston Peters has betrayed firearms owners. He put Labour in power and this Government scapegoated the firearms community in the wake of our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch. Any concessions he’s able to secure will never make up for the way his Government has treated law-abiding firearms owners.

“ACT will be putting forward major amendments that would delete the provisions dealing with a firearms register, regulations on clubs and ranges, and the doctor-patient relationship.

“A firearms register will be costly and inaccurate. Overseas experience shows the price tag of a register is likely to blow out. The Auditor-General recently found that the E Category register was inaccurate by up to 15 percent. What makes the Government believe a new register will be any better? Criminals and gangs will not register their firearms, making it almost meaningless. A register could also create a security risk if details of the location and type of firearms were leaked into criminal hands.

“The bill imposes a new regulatory regime on clubs and ranges. Hunting and shooting clubs have long led the way in the promotion of, and provision of training for, safe firearms handling. Instead of ensuring more licensed firearms owners shoot with the supervision and support of a club, people will be less likely to form clubs and some existing clubs may even disband if volunteer members are unable or afraid to meet this new regulatory burden. This provision will be an own goal for firearms safety.

“The doctor-patient relationship has long been a privileged one. The bill makes a ‘suggestion’ that doctors speak to Police if a person with a firearms licence faces mental health challenges. The Government has claimed that this provision is not mandatory. If that is the case, it makes no difference from the status quo where doctors have the option of reporting a person to other authorities but are not required to. This provision will needlessly stigmatise mental health challenges for no gain.

“This is poorly made law, rushed through in the lead up to an election. If the Government was serious about firearms law reform, it would wait until the Royal Commission reports back on 31 July, consider its recommendations, and start again.”

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