'Turn away from the NRA': US gun lobby may try to influence reforms

4:27 pm on 18 March 2019

The United States' National Rifle Association will "absolutely" try to influence gun law reforms in New Zealand, an Australian politician who organised a strict clamp down on firearms across the ditch in the late 1990s believes.

Norm Legg, a project supervisor with a local security firm, holds up an armalite rifle which is similar to the one used in the Port Arthur massacre and has been handed in for scrap 08 September in Melbourne.

After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia in 1996, the government bought back about 650,000 firearms from the public and scrapped them. Here, in an old photograph, Norm Legg, a project supervisor with a local security firm, holds up an armalite rifle similar to the one used at Port Arthur. Photo: AFP

Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Timothy Fischer was one of the architects of sweeping gun reforms in Australia that were slammed through in just 12 months after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, in which 35 people were killed and at least 18 more injured.

He told Morning Report today: "We set out, with [former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, myself, and with the opposition parties to in fact wind back, to take and drain the suburbs and country towns and regions of semi-automatics and automatics and no apology.

"But equally, if you farmed in an area where there was wild pigs and had to have a particular reason and justification for a particular type of weapon we also provided for that .. but the short answer is yes, New Zealand should seriously consider this. And I gather today, starting in Wellington will you will be.

"Two ingredients of our scheme, very briefly, were shooters licencing, combined with a weapons registration scheme. And it's that second aspect which is missing in New Zealand ... this is your chance to turn away from the NRA and the campaign they will mount against any reforms out of Wellington. Please take it."

He "absolutely" believed the US's National Rifle Association would try to influence reforms in New Zealand.

"They did here in Australia in 1996. They made it very difficult for me. I was hung in effigy we took the argument to the public sphere, there were elements of the NRA very active at that time. You might get ready for that in New Zealand, that will be part of the equation."

RNZ has contacted the NRA for comment.

Since the reforms were completed, there had been "no massacres of 10 or more" people in Australia, Mr Fischer said.

He advised the government "consult widely, that they deal with stakeholders including the farm organisations and the like in New Zealand who have genuine need for guns, Olympic shooters, and that they proceed on a bipartisan basis and take the nation... I wish New Zealand well as you now address the raft of issues arising from the tragedy last weekend in Christchurch."

According to the Guardian, after the Port Arthur Massacre, then Australian Prime Minister John Howard introduced a national gun buy back scheme for weapons that did not comply with the new laws.

The government scrapped more than 650,000 firearms.

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