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Firearm Ownership is a traditional right - Sporting Hunters

The right to own a firearm, subject to safety checks, is part of the New Zealand heritage - no different from gaining the right to drive a motor vehicle - says a sporting hunters advocacy group.

West Coaster Laurie Collins, a spokesman for the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Advocacy, (SHOA) said claims - some in city newspaper editorials - had been made that firearm ownership was a privilege, not a right.

He said he had owned a firearm since 1958, and at that timeI was required to satisfy New Zealand police of his character before he had the right to purchase and own a firearm.

“As soon as that process was completed, as a tax paying, New Zealand citizen, I had the right to purchase a firearm,” he said. “The right to drive a motor vehicle in New Zealand could be viewed as a similar situation to owning a firearm, and providing one doesn't break any of New Zealand's driving laws, that right remains, and is definitely not viewed as a privilege.”

Statements that 'owning a firearm in New Zealand is a privilege', were a misrepresentation of the truth

“It’s a common law principle that anyone who is not a convicted criminal, does in fact have a right to own firearms after firstly obtaining a NZ firearms license.” Further, it is ironic and perverse that some senior Police officers and politicians who may be in the eyes of the law ‘convicted criminals’ themselves, seek to take away the ‘rights’ of legitimate firearms owners.”

It was common knowledge that a top police officer was convicted of drunken driving early in his early police career, and significantly before breath-testing began.

Laurie Collins said government's response with hurried legislation and the resulting “gun buy back” had been a disaster. Gangs had acquired more firearms while the buy-back scheme and melodramatic words “we’re coming after you” on television would not convince criminals and would-be terrorists to hand in their firearms.

“It was stupid, utterly naive and has been a public relations disaster for the police, not helped by strident rhetoric from the Police Association spokesman,” said Laurie Collins.

Worse still government had flouted democratic principles in rushing through the first bill and claiming 13,000 submissions had been considered in three days. Aggravating the panic-pushed bungling has been government enacting new law before a Royal Commission has deliberated on the Christchurch massacre.

Laurie Collins has had a lifelong association with firearms both for recreation, working for the Forest Service and in pest control work.

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