12 Mar 2024

Muslim leaders to discuss gun laws changes with Christopher Luxon

9:05 am on 12 March 2024
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon at post-cab

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The Canterbury Muslim community wants assurances from the Prime Minister that any changes to gun laws will not put their safety at risk.

Christopher Luxon is meeting with Muslim leaders in Christchurch today, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the mosque shootings.

This Friday marks five years since the massacre in which a lone gunman murdered 51 people.

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesperson Ahmed Khan said Muslim leaders were looking forward to having an open conversation with Luxon about their concerns.

The government is rewriting the Arms Act this term and changes may include allowing competitive shooters access to military style guns for sport.

Khan said his community was opposed to anything that allowed easier access to those weapons.

"We want to see what is going on regarding the new law they're looking to introduce, and also the impact; what will be the safety assurance to the community?" he said.

Khan said it was the first time most of the Muslim leaders would be meeting Luxon.

"The community and myself we are all excited to have a meeting with him, and we'll put our views to him and wait what to hear what he can offer us," Khan said.

Luxon said he had a lot of sensitivity for the community.

"I want to be able to sit down with them in fairness just privately, and to be able to have them raise their concerns with me, and also check in and see how they are, where they are and what they feel else needs to get done," he said.

While gun laws were being relaxed in some areas, they were tightening elsewhere, with the government giving police more powers to search gang members' vehicles and homes, earlier this month.

Luxon told Morning Report no decisions had yet been made.

Associate Minister of Justice (Firearms) Nicole McKee was not looking at introducing any new firearms, Luxon said.

"The basis of her review is actually about promoting public safety and compliance.

"It's making sure that our top priority has been to crack down, already you've seen us move last week on illegal guns for gangs and criminals.

"Until we see some papers, some discussions, some decisions, at Cabinet we haven't had those conversations, it will happen in due course.

"But I'm looking forward to spending time with the families and the community there."

Community slowly healing five years on

Imam Lateef Alabi Zikrullah, from the Linwood Islamic Centre, told Morning Report he did not believe the "issue of guns is a big issue" in New Zealand.

"As far as I know, we believe that the New Zealand Government understand ... anything that may cause harm to the community in general, let alone Muslims, definitely they will not go in that way.

"The issue [of guns] is not there, we don't even think about it much as far as I'm concerned."

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Imam Lateef Alabi Zikrullah Photo: RNZ / Matt Chatterton

Zikrullah said the community was recovering from the trauma from five years ago.

And while slow, "things are getting better, and the massacre, the incident, I should put it, is going off mind slowly and people are getting back on their feet".

Linwood Islamic Charitable Trust secretary Said Mostafa said he was "confident in our new government".

"I am sure as we've seen through history that ... being a Kiwi, we do learn quickly from the past and I am sure that prime minister will assure us that he is aware of all dangers and anything [that] can affect our communities - the wider community - not just Muslims or Christian, not religion based.

"So I am hoping today, and I am very optimistic that prime minister will be in party with us."

To Luxon, he said: "Keep the good job up.

"We're here to pay back our Kiwi community, we're here to help anyone in need and do the best we can do for our beloved country."

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