Two weeks after the Christchurch mosques were attacked the form and timeline of the gun amnesty is taking shape. The start and finish dates of the amnesty period in which firearm owners can surrender their Military Style Semi-Automatic and automatic weapons, as well as the modifications and any parts needed to give them the capacity to have high rates of fire have been announced. Owners of the gun types affected will have from Friday 12 April until the end of September to surrender their weapons – six months from now. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made the announcement today following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
However the leader of the Mongrel Mob Sonny Fatu insists that gangs will not be handing their guns in, despite warnings from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Police Stuart Nash. This comes after reports that the rival Mongrel Mob gang would be likewise refusing to hand their arsenal of weapons over. And to combat this, the Government has been examining the suitability of prohibition orders and what effect they might have on the situation. Mr Nash also announced the addition of further police including some who will work in the organised crime squad.
All people living in and visiting New Zealand are subject to the laws and regulations of this country. There is not an exception to be made to the gangs, irrespective of their patch, how big they are or what good they do in the community.
I assume therefore that Customs will be given more resources and funding to track down illegally imported firearms after that time, which will include the AR-15 rifle. This was the type used in the attack because it could be modified to have a high rate of fire and use magazines that could carry up to 100 rounds. I further assume that penalties for owning such illegal weapons are going to substantially increase.
Whilst one battle in Parliament to rid New Zealand of M.S.S.A. type weapons, other battles are heating up on the internet as lobby groups such as Gun City mobilize their supporters. David Tipple of Gun City is one of numerous individuals sponsoring adverts on Facebook that are targetting people who are undecided about the debate and hope to drastically weaken if not force the outright repeal of the ban and the Bill of Parliament that is going to go before the House today.
Unconfirmed rumours (I got it from Henry Cooke, journalist at Stuff)are circulating that the National Rifle Association of America is sending senior members to New Zealand to help gun lobbyists here fight the impending ban. If true, this amounts to serious meddling and shows a distinct lack of ethics, empathy or responsibility on the part of the N.R.A., who I honestly believe can go and bonk themselves. The N.R.A. fought aggressively against the Arms Trade Treaty that Amnesty International and Oxfam along with numerous Governments including the New Zealand Government (both fifth Labour and fifth National-led Governments supported it)supported. Their message was that it would interfere with domestic firearm laws around the world, which is not at all true; that the United Nations has an agenda to ban guns, which again is not at all true.
Along with all of this, debates about gun laws are starting to turn toxic. Emotions are being injected in place of fact and unfortunately the Government has not helped the situation by only giving submitters one week to make submissions on the legislation. In fact it smacks of the previous National-led Government’s penchant for using urgency because it was convenient and not necessary.