2 Jul 2019

Media banned from gun buy-back events after concerns raised

5:16 pm on 2 July 2019

Police have heeded the advice of the Deerstalkers Association and banned media from attending gun buy-back events.

A selection of firearms which are now prohibited, on display to media at a police press conference.

The Deerstalkers Association the presence of media at the events and the arming of police during those events as two its concerns. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

The Deerstalkers Association was concerned that lawful gun owners would be vilified if they were pictured or filmed handing in a now-banned gun.

To alleviate concerns, police are holding an open day for media on Thursday, but will not be letting the cameras in when the buy-back events start up.

Deerstalkers Association president Bill O'Leary said some lawful gun owners had been made to feel like criminals during the past few months.

He said the association had been alerted to a number of situations in which a firearm owner had been harassed by a member of the public for having a gun.

"We've had reports come into us of reasonably serious accusations and altercations with members of the public who have identified an individual as a gun owner," Mr O'Leary said.

"They've had the borax poured on them, so that's a major concern and it has aggravated the feelings of a lot of our people."

For that reason, some gun owners were concerned about attending one of the more than 200 buy-back events being held around the country

"There was a concern about a media presence which could be intrusive, at a time where there's a little bit of heightened tension.

"People feel quite strongly about being required to hand in their firearms because the law has been changes through no fault of their own."

Mr O'Leary said many gun owners were frustrated that they have to hand in their guns, and he was one of them.

Although he's reluctant to give up his guns, he said he was a law-abiding citizen and would do just that, even if it was with a grimace on his face.

The Deerstalkers Association raised two areas of concern with police about the buy-back; the presence of media at the events, and the arming of police during those events.

Police said their staff would be armed to protect the weapons that had been handed in.

However, they obliged to the association in banning media from the buy-back events, saying in a statement: "Media will not be able to enter or film inside the collection events when the firearms owners are inside.

"This decision was made some time ago as these events are for the safe and secure hand in of firearms by owners and, due to privacy considerations, there will be no filming or photography of the public inside Collection events."

Instead, police will hold a media open day at Trentham Racecourse near Wellington on Thursday, where they will explain the process for handing in a gun.

Mr O'Leary said the Deerstalkers Association was sending a letter to members today, outlining the plans and encouraging members to attend one of the buy-back events.

They will advise anyone cautious about attending the larger events to seek out a smaller venue when they come to hand in their firearms.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs