6 Aug 2015

Changes target gun safety

6:45 pm on 6 August 2015

The Mountain Safety Council (MSC) has unexpectedly shaken up its gun safety programmes, used by thousands of hunters.


Photo: 123RF

All new gun licence applicants - 10,000 of them last year - must first complete a firearms safety programme.

The MSC has been radically restructuring itself for a more than a year but shooting organisations say they have been promised at every step no changes would be made to the firearms safety programmes, which last year trained thousands of people to use guns safely.

But the council has confirmed to Radio New Zealand it has made a range of changes in the past five weeks, including making the programme's two co-ordinators redundant, and abolishing the technical committee which supported them.

The council said it would be appointing new partnership advisers and setting up new issue-specific advisory groups as needed.

Shooting organisations say the changes have come out of the blue and have shattered their confidence.

Deerstalkers Association president Bill O'Leary said he was shocked and alarmed by the changes, which came without any consultation.

Mr O'Leary said many national shooting and hunting organisations and gun safety volunteers were up in arms.

"The short-sighted, pointless changes that MSC has introduced, they have just shattered the credibility that the firearm instructors of MSC had and that the firearms programme managers have got."

Mr O'Leary said there had been no consultation about the changes with national shooting organisations or safety volunteers.

He said lives of hunters could be put at risk, as the quality of the safety training would suffer.

Other organisations, including Fish and Game and the Animal Game Council, also said they were not consulted and wanted answers.

But the MSC said in a statement it had openly communicated the changes, which it believed would build hunter safety.

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