14 May 2019

Firearms lobby to complain about police treatment of gun owners

9:31 pm on 14 May 2019

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners plans to go to the police about the way in which some firearms owners are being treated, in response to new legislation banning some weapons.

A Norinco 5-point-56, a mock of the M16 rifle, which is now illegal.

A Norinco 5-point-56, a mock of the M16 rifle, which is now illegal. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Police have been conducting armed raids to seize firearms, since Parliament last month passed legislation banning semi-automatic firearms, magazines, and parts.

It expanded the category of prohibited firearms, but not firearms commonly used in farming, hunting, and recreational communities.

The bill also set up an amnesty for people to surrender the firearms to licensed dealers and the police, until the 30 September this year.

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners secretary Nicole McKee said the stories they were hearing had prompted consideration of a complaint to the police.

"Basically we're getting outlines of stories from people who've been raided at different hours of the day and night. They're varying stories and we'd probably like to collate those and approach the police about it."

Ms McKee was aware some of those raided had made submissions to the arms amendment bill.

"We think it's broader than that, but we do understand some of these people have made submissions to the bill, yes."

A Canterbury farm manager, Adam Mielnik, made a submission against the speed of the law change, and the ban on semi-automatic rifles.

He did not think the raid on his property was linked to his views, as much as the timing around when he purchased his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the day after the Christchurch terror attacks in March.

"I've never thought about it, to tell you the truth, because the police said they were there because of my recent purchase. That's all I thought it was - I couldn't think of anything else, really, that could have led to it."

At lunchtime last Thursday he was at home when a fleet of police cars arrived suddenly.

"They just turned up out of the blue. It was quite ... it happened very quickly - cars came straight up the driveway and some parked out on the road in front of my driveway. Some came around the back, through in behind my sheds.

"Most of them were armed - at least seven or eight were armed and then there were a couple of plain clothes officers, like the detective-type sort of people," Mr Mielnik said.

Police confiscated his rifle which was worth over $2500, and $400 worth of accessories and ammunition.

"It was shocking really. It just felt so heavy-handed, unnecessary, intimidating ... all those sorts of words really. Just unnecessary and over-the-top."

Mr Mielnik used the semi automatic centrefire for animal welfare issues. He said it was locked in a safe, and he had every intention of surrendering it, but it was seized before he managed to do that.

He said there were still too many finer details to be ironed out before he could hand over the firearm, but then it was seized.

RNZ asked the police for comment earlier today, and is yet to get a response.

Police have told the Otago Daily Times that many individuals had been spoken to as a result of inquiries following the attacks.

They said it was part of normal policing, and that anyone was welcome to make a complaint if they believed police had done something wrong.

Mr Mielnik said he had not yet been compensated for the items taken.

"I'm expecting it, that's for sure. I don't see why not."

Mr Mielnik said the police left documentation of what they took.

He said despite the experience, he was not planning on making a complaint.

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