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Independent Group Announced To Advise On Firearms Matters

Minister of Police Poto Williams has announced the members of the Ministers Arms Advisory Group, established to ensure balanced advice to Government on firearms that is independent of Police.

“The Ministers Arms Advisory Group is an important part of delivering on the Government’s commitment to ensure we maintain the balance of keeping our communities safe, while still enabling the safe use of firearms in our communities for legitimate purposes,” says Poto Williams.

“The establishment of this group was enabled by the laws passed last year to strengthen the administration of and the delivery of the intent of the Arms Act.

“The Group will provide advice on firearms matters and offer varying perspectives on how activities may impact on licence holders and on our communities.”

The Group will be asked to provide advice on any matters relating to firearms including legislative proposals, policies for regulating the firearms regime, and the promotion of firearm safety. It must produce an annual report of its proceedings and operations.

The Group has both firearm-owning and non-firearm-owning members and includes people with knowledge and experience in the required subject areas below:

  • firearms regulatory systems
  • public health and safety
  • firearms research
  • firearms safety and use of firearms
  • membership of a community organisation or group involved in firearms awareness, safety, or law reform.

The Chair is Don Hammond, the previous chair of the Statutory Game Animal Council. He is both a farmer and forest owner

The members are:

Maxine Shortland – Community and business leader, farmer and currently Chair, NZ Public Health Association.

Rehanna Ali – member of the reference group for the Royal Commission of Inquiry and founding member of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand.

Simon Mount QC – Counsel to Sir Thomas Thorp assisting the review of firearms control in 1996-1997.

Michael Dowling – President of the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO), and board member of the New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups.

Dr Cathy Stephenson – GP, Clinical Lead Southern for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice, and Senior Clinical Lecturer in Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence, University of Otago.

Debbie Wakker – President of Pistol New Zealand and previous competitive shooter. Founding member of COLFO and the Firearms Community Advisory Forum.

Philippa Yasbek – Co-founder of Gun Control New Zealand.

Shayne Walker – Senior Lecturer for the University of Otago, department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.

The members were chosen because their knowledge, experience, and background met several of required subject areas, and collectively as a group they covered all the areas.

To ensure continuity, the terms of appointment will be staggered, with three – including the Chair – appointed for a term of 3 years, another three for 2 years, and the remaining three for 18 months.

The membership terms will officially start on 6 April 2021, and the first meeting is expected to be held in May.

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