28 May 2019

New gun control lobby started in Wellington

6:37 pm on 28 May 2019

A new group lobbying for tighter gun laws in New Zealand has been launched in Wellington today.

Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannon shows media a Norinco-5-point-56, a mock of the M16 rifle, which is now illegal.

Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannon shows media a Norinco-5-point-56, a mock of the M16 rifle, which is now illegal. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

The founders of Gun Control NZ formed the group in response to what they say were only modest changes to this country's gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

The group is seeking introduction of a mandatory gun register, along with a ban on all semi-automatic weapons and a shortened three-year registration period for gun owners.

The group was formed by Nik Green, who launched a petition to Parliament in the wake of the Christchurch massacre seeking a semi-automatic ban and advertising regulations.

The petition attracted 70,000 signatures in a week.

He said the objectives of Gun Control NZ were about the kind of society we are and the kind of society we don't want to become.

"As a parent I don't want children and teachers to view shooter lock-down drills as an everyday part of school life. I don't want our already stretched hospitals to be overwhelmed with gun violence.

"I don't want our police, firefighters and ambulance staff to fear they will face loaded firearms when they respond to emergencies and I don't want people of faith to be afraid to practise and express their beliefs because of concerns about heavily-armed bigots."

Another co-founder of Gun Control NZ is Hera Cook, a public health lecturer at Otago University.

She said the group understands guns will never disappear entirely from New Zealand as they are required for such activities as pest control, but she said, while doing research into gun use in New Zealand, gun owners and non-owners alike saw the benefits of living in a non-violent country.

From left to right: Nik Green, Hera Cook and Philippa Yasbek.

From left to right: Nik Green, Hera Cook and Philippa Yasbek. Photo: RNZ / Anne Marie May

"In which we feel safe around other New Zealanders, in which people can go about their jobs happily without fear.

"And the fact that everyone was willing to talk to us in the course of our research says something really positive about new Zealand and our capacity to solve problems together."

The third co-founder of the group, Philippa Yasbek said Australia's gun laws were tightened in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre and there have been no mass shootings there since.

She said, while gangs have indicated they would not give up their guns, it is important to remember that all the guns held illegally in New Zealand were once legal guns.

"We have no smuggling of guns into New Zealand; they all come in legally, get bought by licensed firearm owners and then they either get stolen from them or they get sold unscrupulously.

"A lot go into the grey market, people sell them on Trade Me, the sales aren't recorded, you don't really know who's bought it and they just slowly filter out to the gangs."

Ms Yasbek said having a register will give a better idea of how many guns there were in New Zealand and imposing greater control would reduce the level of guns in the black market.

Gun City store owner David Tipple speaks to the media during a press conference today.

Owner of Gun City, David Tipple. Photo: AFP or licensors

However, the owner of one of the country's largest chain of firearms stores believes the group is focusing on a problem that, in reality, does not exist.

David Tipple, who owns the Gun City stores, said it was a shame that well-meaning people were focusing on a non-problem like firearms when so many other issues were ignored.

He said some people were being told by their parents that "G-U-N equals B-A-D", but he does not believe there is any sensible reason to change what is being done now to control firearms.

Mr Tipple said New Zealand had some of the best firearm controls in the world and it was system faults that allowed attacks like those in Christchurch to occur.

He pointed to the case of the Aramoana shooter, David Grey, who he said would not have met the fit-and-proper criteria to be a gun owner, but was still able to access firearms.

"We know that when the system is followed, that New Zealand is safe, but we're not safe if we're an infant being brought up in New Zealand.

"We're not safe if we're a teenager and exposed to drugs or exposted to the idea that suicide is good, so let's get fixing real problems rather than imagined."

Mr Tipple says people should focus their energies on issues that will actually make a useful difference to society.

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