The past month in New Zealand has been both heart wrenching and heart warming.
Our sympathy must go out to the people of Christchurch who have been the victims of an unprecedented and incomprehensible attack.
The shocking events will have a lasting effect on us all as new levels of security and wariness creep into our society.
As I look out my window of Parliament, I see an armed policeman below; while at my offices in Feilding and Taumarunui the public are locked out, with entry allowed by appointment only – and all this in New Zealand.
In Parliament we have passed, in record time, the Arms Amendment Bill which makes a range of guns and gun parts illegal in this country.
Basically all semi-automatics, 5-shot shotguns and 10-shot .22s are now banned other than in exceptional cases, for pest control and of course the Armed Forces and Police. An amnesty and buyback system will be put in place running until the 30th of September.
I am concerned that the amnesty period will not be long enough and believe the terms of the buyback need to be made public, and advertised widely, as soon as possible.
I have been heavily involved in the Arms Amendment Act as I sat on that select committee. We sat for five days at various times but credit must go to the officials who worked very long hours to achieve the very positive result they did.
The Government intends to bring more legislation to the House later in the year to ensure the registration of individual firearms and changes to the licensing process are dealt with in a sound manner.
The real challenge for the Government will be to ensure law-abiding citizens are not unduly punished, while at the same time making sure those who don't surrender their now banned guns are punished appropriately.
Parliament has gone into recess for two weeks and when it resumes we will be looking forward to returning to some form of normality following the Christchurch murders.
Having said that, the End of Life Choices Bill will face a somewhat controversial passage through Parliament having been reported back from the Select Committee with only minor changes.
Should it make it through the second reading - and I think it's likely to - there will be an opportunity for changes to be made at the Committee Stage, which may make it more palatable for some. Once through the Committee Stages it would then go to a third reading for a final decision and to pass it into law.
If the Bill passes with (or should it be without) NZ First support I understand it could go to a referendum before becoming law, although the details of any proposed referendum are unknown at present. There is much debate to be had around this controversial legislation.
Anzac Day is nearly upon us and of course will be preceded by the Easter break. In the meantime I am spending a week in Taiwan looking at trade and other matters. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Break and an opportunity to commemorate Anzac Day.