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Sporting Shooters Association Of New Zealand Is Optimistic For The Future Of Firearms Ownership With Coalition Formation

Friday November 24, 2023 at 630pm

Today is the beginning of what will be a significant period for Law Abiding Firearms Owners as a whole.

The Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand (SSANZ) wholeheartedly supports the selection of Nicole Mckee as the Associate Minister of Justice (Firearms) and we are confident that she is the best person for the task of reforming the Arms Act after years of neglect and poor policy decisions.

In respect to the pledge to begin repealing Part 6 of the Arms Act, we are in full support of this. The range regulations were a poor attempt at regulating for the sake of regulating in the aftermath of 2019. Shooting Ranges in New Zealand have an impeccable safety record, with sports such as Rugby causing more injuries. All these regulations caused was the imposition of another hurdle for Gun Clubs, some of which were dealing with an exodus of members after multiple shooting disciplines were culled under the Labour Government.

The range regulations also represented a monumental overstep on the part of Police towards the average shooter, as it attempted to regulate landholders who hosted shooters and had a target setup in a paddock by treating it in a similar nature to a dedicated commercially run range.

In contrast, if that target were to be replaced by a deer, no regulatory burden would exist in respect to ranges.

It was an ambiguous policy that fundamentally went against public safety as it deprived people who did not have access to established commercial ranges the ability to shoot on private land whether it be for practice or to sight in firearms for safe use.
SSANZ firmly holds the stance that the same rules that apply to shooting an animal on farmland, should apply to shooting a target on farmland, and should not discriminate between those who own land, and those who have permission to use that land.

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The need for removal of administration of the Arms Act from New Zealand Police has been a longstanding sentiment in the firearms community. Labour had previously pledged to make this key change and move the Police away from the role as regulator and prioritise their role as enforcement,but this was never delivered on.

Instead, Labour established a business unit within Police, known as the Firearms Safety Authority, rather than outside of it. We are fully supportive of the Firearms Safety Authority being moved to the Department of Internal Affairs.
The removal of the Firearms Safety Authority and regulatory oversight from Police would also put to rest the Police’s ability to write regulations.

The Labour Government had given New Zealand Police the ability to ‘consult’ and write regulations on topics outlined in statute, but without the oversight of Parliament or Select Committees. Whilst Parliament outlined the specific areas to regulate, Police oversaw the writing of the actual regulations.

Given the power of these regulations, it turned what is a law enforcement agency into a de-facto lawmaker, with a fraction of the oversight compared to that of Parliament. It was this ineffective, and scantly advertised process that created the range regulations discussed above.

As for the commitment to start a review on the effectiveness of the registry by June 2024, SSANZ is fully supportive of this.

We believe that the registry in its current form is overstated in its effectiveness and does not represent a good investment. The effectiveness of the registry is found in its function as an investigative aid but is being marketed as a pre-emptive strike capability to prevent gun crime.

The effectiveness of this extremely expensive investigative aid is commonly negated by the criminal practice of removing serial numbers and other identifying markers from firearms.

SSANZ believes that the registry should be wound back in scope and simplified as to not encompass A-category firearms, with these resources being diverted to resourcing frontline investigative and enforcement capabilities to target firearms crime.

With the Arms Act rewrite, this is of critical importance to not only license holders, but the safety of New Zealand as a whole. SSANZ will continue to support the return of semi-automatic rifles to sporting and hunting contexts, encompassed by the appropriate licensing frameworks and effective safeguards.

SSANZ will be disseminating a complete list of desired Arms Act changes soon.

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