Attorney-General David Parker back-tracks on comments about gun control

6:04 pm on 16 March 2019

Attorney-General David Parker has clarified comments made at a vigil in Auckland's Aotea Square this afternoon, saying the government has not yet committed to banning some or all semi-automatic weapons.

Attorney-General David Parker

Attorney-General David Parker has back-tracked, saying the government has not yet committed to banning some or all semi-automatic weapons. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Mr Parker appeared to tell the cheering crowd that the government would ban semi-automatics, with some media and people on social media reporting the government had promised action.

He has since, however, told RNZ he did not mean to go further than the prime minister. Earlier today Jacinda Ardern promised changes to New Zealand's gun laws and said regulations around semi-automatic weapons was "one of the issues" the government would consider.

But she did not say definitively the government would ban those weapons.

Mr Parker told RNZ he could not remember his exact words but was trying to reflect Ardern's comments that "we need to ban some semi-automatics, perhaps all of them. Those decisions have yet to be taken but the prime minister has signalled that we are going to look at that issue".

The Police Association has spoken in support of Ms Ardern's call for gun laws to change, after it was revealed the gunman yesterday used five guns including two semi-automatic weapons.

Police Association president Chris Cahill

NZPA president Chris Cahill Photo: RNZ / Jacob West

NZPA president Chris Cahill said it is far too easy to legally access military grade semi-automatics.

He said with no gun register, there was no knowledge of where most guns are held in the country.

"We know how easy it is to get firearms in New Zealand, and while today and the next few days is the time to look after the welfare of the victims and their families, clearly we need to have a look at firearms law in New Zealand," Mr Cahill said.

"If someone was building up a cache of weapons and there was some alarms around that, it would be something that could be followed up, but as it stands now we have no idea who's buying weapons and where they're keeping them or how many they have in New Zealand."

Mr Cahill said semi-automatic firearms need to be banned and guns need to be registered to licence-holders.

As the law stands, anyone over 16 years old with an entry level firearm licence can keep a number of rifles and shotguns, and the guns are not registered, meaning there is no record of the weapons.

Council of Licenced Firearm Owners chairman spokesperson Nicole McKee said authorities and the firearms community need to ensure the safe use and control of guns to guard against people who should not have access to such weapons do not get access.

"We have made it clear to some govt agencies that we are open, not to lobby them, but to have some frank discussions about what we can do to assist this country to ensure that this sort of thing cannot happen in the future," Ms McKee said.

"It's not about lobbying, it's about how we can ensure that everybody in our country is kept safe."

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