The first oral submissions on the Arms Legislation Bill are being heard in Wellington today, and Auckland and Christchurch will host further hearings tomorrow. The bill includes proposals for a firearm registry, as part of a raft of gun law changes following the March 15 mosque attacks in Christchurch that killed 51 people. Some written submissions on the bill have been made publically available, including from some Bay of Plenty stakeholders. Samantha Olley reports.
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Bay of Plenty hunters, competitive shooters and a devoted meditator have written to Parliament about proposed gun law changes.
The second tranche of reforms follow April's ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles after the Christchurch mosque attacks.
The first oral submissions on the Arms Legislation Bill are being heard today in Wellington.
Susanna Dunstan wrote to the Select Committee saying the people she voted into Government had made her "and many other families that enjoy hunting and gathering out to be the unsafe criminals" during the first tranche of changes.
"This will determine how we will all vote in the next election."
The Pyes Pa resident said guns in New Zealand were not the problem - it was the licensing process and a need for more firearms officers.
"We need a more intensive vetting process and [to] also take advantage of our local deerstalkers facilities to run compulsory safety training programmes," she wrote.
"Through this training programme behaviour can be monitored and then licences can be declined."
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Nicholas Dredge, a vetted range member for the New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association in Tauranga, called the legislation "a poor copy [and] paste of the Australian system rather than a systematic and thorough review of our own firearms culture and place in society".
He wrote that the bill "falls well short of its stated intention of creating and enforcing safer practices and environments around firearms use in New Zealand".
Dredge said it would "drive up costs of ownership and strain the relationship between police and the firearms community".
The association's Bay of Plenty branch manager, Grant Hammond, said the Christchurch mosque attacker had "no respect for the law or human life" and, in his opinion, "no law was ever going to stop him".
His submission said the changes were a "politically staged response sold to New Zealand citizens as a solution" but would target law-abiding firearms owners, not criminals.
"As a democratic free society, we must accept that we cannot control everything. There will always be outcasts that commit atrocities."
However, Whakamarama resident Phil Ramsey wrote a submission stating shooting ranges disturbed meditation.
He said he was an "old student" of the Vipassana Foundation Charitable Trust's centre in Auckland where he said "audible gunfire" from the Auckland Shooting Club next door had negatively affected the centre.
"The teachings require a mindful focus without disruption."
Semi-retired farmer Grant Castles has been a clay target shooter for 40 years and coaches Tauranga Boys' College team members.
He called the bill "totally undemocratic" in his submission.
He said it had been short-tracked and that the costs of new regulations were unclear to him.
Alan Dickson is the president of the Tauranga Target Rifle Club and the Te Puke Rifle Club.
The 70-year-old has been using firearms since age 16 and called for clubs and ranges to be removed from the bill.
He also called for the present 10-year licence duration to remain, to prevent cost increases.
Dickson said a firearms administration agency should be set up to manage licensing instead of police, and that club licences should be created.
He said "the Government should have confidence that there will never be a repeat of the Christchurch massacre" now military-style weapons have been removed.
Malcolm Bangs, a fellow clay target shooter from Maungatapu, said the cost of the sport would more than likely double for people wanting to take part in a "controlled, disciplined environment".
He said young people would be inhibited most.
Bay of Plenty Clay Target Association president Ben Tuck wrote that the proposed changes for clay shooters were "a double-up of what we already have".
"We have been operating in our community for nearly 150 years without issues or any regulatory requirements that required the involvement of the police."
The bill proposes
• Starting a firearms registry
• Halving firearms licence durations to five years
• Licences for shooting clubs and ranges
• All people with firearm parts, magazines and ammunition will need a licence
• Tightening licence rules for individuals and dealers
• New offences and penalties
• Enabling health practitioners to notify police if they have concerns about a licence firearms owner