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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is adamant that the gun lobby in New Zealand will not dilute the planned crackdown on firearms following the Christchurch mosque massacre.
"There is resolve and Cabinet has already made its decisions," she said at Parliament today.
The exact measures in that crackdown have not yet been revealed but are thought to include a ban on semi-automatic weapons and stricter licensing rules.
Ardern hinted that the reforms would be passed quickly, even if it goes through a select committee.
She said she did not expect any lobbying from the United States' National Rifle Association.
“We have our own culture in New Zealand. We see our own needs and I think the response we have will be a New Zealand one.
“We do have legitimate and responsible gun use particularly in our rural community - animal welfare and pest control. My view is that those gun owners will be with us.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash, who has been conservative on gun reform in the past, has been assigned to consult with National to try and get cross-party support with the Opposition.
New Zealand First, which is seen as the strongest advocate of the gun lobby in Parliament, is now also behind the reform.
Leader Winston Peters said that a select committee report into firearms in 2017 had been primarily concerned about the access of illegal arms to gangs.
“The reality is though is that after 1 pm on the 15th of March, our world changed forever and so will some of our laws.”
Paula Bennett, National's former Police Minister, rejected many recommendations to tighten gun laws after a year-long inquiry by the law and order select committee.
She accepted only seven out of 20.
The majority on the committee was held by National Party backbenchers.
Nash, who was Labour's police spokesman at the time, said Bennett had “got it 100 per cent right.”
Among the committee's recommendations rejected by the Government were measures requiring the police to record serial numbers of all firearms upon renewal of licence or inspection, introducing a new licence to possess ammunition, and making dealers keep records of ammunition sales.
The Government also refused to accept the recommendation to investigate the creation of a category of restricted semi-automatic rifle and shotgun. The committee did not recommend banning semi-automatics.
The Police Association- the police officers' union, have been strong advocates for gun reform and slammed Bennett's decision at the time as the result of bowing to the gun lobby.
Federated Farmers expressed relief that the Government had accepted so few of the recommendations.
Bennett said at the time that while the inquiry had been well-intentioned, many of the recommendations would not have decreased the flow of firearms to criminals and gangs but would have unduly impacted on legally licenced firearms users.
Asked today if she regretted rejecting the recommendations from the firearms inquiry in 2017, Bennett said: “That's the time that it was in. There is no point in having hindsight. It's a great thing, but that was that time, we're in unprecedented times right now.”
Her decisions had been supported by Labour at the time, as well.
She said looking ahead to the decisions made about firearms was more important at this time.
“I think that what we have to do is acknowledge the time we are in, the changes that we need to make, look at those proposals from the Government and go from there”.
All parties in Parliament backed the establishment of the select committee inquiry in 2016 after the shooting of four police officers in Kawerau, and the discovery of a cache of weapons in the ceiling of a Takanini home including 14 military-style weapons, among them AK47s and M16s.
SOURCE: NZ HERALD/PACNEWS
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