Firearms amendment: Select Committee makes few changes

10:24 pm on 8 April 2019

The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee has recommended only minor changes to the government bill banning semi-automatic rifles.

Acting Superintendant Michael McIlraith demonstrates how semi-automatic weapons can be illegally modified

Police demonstrate firearms to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

The committee finished its deliberations today and published its report on the bill this evening.

The report recommends changing the bill so pest controllers can use semi-automatic rifles on private land, rather than only in areas managed by the Department of Conservation.

It also calls for an exemption allowing people to keep heirloom weapons, so long as they are made inoperable by removing a vital part to be stored at a separate location kept secure by police.

The Green Party noted it considered this exemption to be at odds with the purpose of the amendment, and called for collectors' firearms to be made permanently inoperable, despite the reduction in value this would entail.

The committee rejected calls to exempt competitive shooters from the ban because that would allow more semi-automatic firearms to remain in circulation.

The main groups representing gun-owners have refused to comment on the report until they have considered it.

The ACT Party restated its leader David Seymour's position that the bill was rushed through parliament.

"We share the view of the Law Society, which submitted that such a process is likely to result in bad law," the party said.

"We hoped to be proven wrong, that the officials would be highly informed and be able to answer questions. In some cases they not only could not, but would not. In particular, they were unable to reassure us that the law would actually work.

"Added to the erosion of parliamentary sovereignty that we saw in this bill, we see no reason why it should continue."

The Committee said it had considered 13,062 submissions and heard oral evidence from 22 submitters. About 60 percent supported the bill, 26 percent were opposed and 14 percent expressed another view.

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