COMMENT:

Never has a Parliamentary petition been so quickly answered, although rarely have signatures been sought when those signing knew their goal was going to be achieved.

The petitioners were obviously told to present their 70 thousand signatures by late yesterday morning or their plea would have been a little meaningless.

They wanted a crackdown on the sort of semi automatic rifles used in the Christchurch massacre last Friday and four hours later they got it.

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Receiving the petition Grant Robertson probably summed up the view of most of us. He told the petitioners he couldn't understand why Kiwis have access to weapons that were made specifically to kill other human beings.

After more than a quarter of a century of debate and a number of attempts to get rid of them, it's finally happening.

But in the intervening years so many of them have made their way into this country, no-one knows how many.

Two semi automatics were used by the Australian to change the course of our beloved country.

He bought his weapons legally on the standard firearms' licence he had but modified them to give them the capacity to fire magazines containing 30 or more bullets.

The fact that we don't know how many of these weapons are now in circulation is a disgrace and a reflection of bad politics.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / SNPA
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / SNPA

It's all very fine having a register of gun owners but surely it's high time we had a register of weapons as well. Without one it means someone like the Christchurch maniac can secretly build up a cache of lethal firearms and use them with evil intent.

Now it'll cost up to a couple of hundred million bucks to get them back, a cost borne by all of us, essentially because of political inaction in the past.

Finally we have action, just as the Prime Minister promised within hours of this terrible slaughter. It's tragic it's taken such a horrible event to spur them into action.

There'll be push back on the Government's immediate ban on these military style weapons, on assault rifles and on the equipment used to modify guns, including large magazines.

But in the words of one of those who organised the petition against them, they have no place in this country.

Brad Knewstubb, who grew up in Christchurch and has had experience with firearms, told MPs from across the political spectrum who'd gathered to receive the petition that semi automatics are weapons of convenience.

They're designed to save the user a second or two that it'd take to reload a conventional firearm.

Knewstubb said from experience they're easy to use but just because it's easy doesn't make it right.

The politicians nodded in agreement.