Tuesday, April 23, 2024

They’re taking gun owners for fools again

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We’re told new laws will keep us safer while statistics suggest the opposite, says Alan Emerson.
Firearm owners are about to be charged more for an arms licence.
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There was an advertisement in the papers last week under the heading “The new place for Firearm Owners”.

I had a look at their website and, yet again, the government and authorities are taking firearm owners (nga kaipupuri pu) for idiots.

It is not new, it is still part of the police and it will inevitably be business as usual. Nothing has changed.

What is about to change is firearm owners being charged more for an arms licence.

For a start I agree with Northland farmer Tom Pow, who was quoted in Farmers Weekly telling us that farmers shouldn’t be charged for killing pests, “Mutters as police take aim at firearm fee” (January 16). 

In the same article the Coalition of Licenced Firearm Owners (COLFO) told us that the police discussion document on increasing the licence fees “has vague assertions without substantiation”. Again, I agree.

Currently a 10-year licence fee is $126-50, which could go to $727-50. Conversely, a driver’s licence is but $109.50.

The current gun control saga was started by the horrific murders in Christchurch. The reaction was knee-jerk with the headline of banning military style semi-automatic weapons, which I didn’t have a problem with. Sadly, we were lied to as it included all semi-automatic weapons, which has achieved nothing.

Gun violence has increased. The government’s approach, supported by the National opposition, has done little except alienate legitimate gun owners and encourage an explosion in our pest population.  

Getting back to the police discussion document, they tell us that the fees are to “contribute to an arms regulatory system that keeps us all safe”.

That’s patently absurd as gun violence is on the rise. Last year Auckland recorded over 368 gun offences. Gun offences involving gangs are also increasing, with over 1000 offences last year.

That tells me that the current system isn’t keeping anyone safe.

The police document also tells me that the terrorist event in Christchurch identified that the arms regulatory regime was severely underfunded and under resourced.

I thought that cute, as a half-decent arms licence investigation by the police would have resulted in the mosque shooter being refused a gun licence.

The problem is greater than just fees.

After the mosque attack the government and the police did all they could to pillory legitimate firearm owners. That created resentment, which doesn’t encourage co-operation.

We read there are almost 250,000 licensed gun owners in New Zealand. The reality is that there are many more gun owners that haven’t had a licence and have no intention of getting one.

Why would you?

The application for a drivers’ licence is just four pages long. Cars kill more people than guns.

The application for a liquor licence is also four pages, and we’re told alcohol kills more people than guns.

The application form for a firearms licence is 40 pages, largely consisting of intrusive and irrelevant rubbish.

It asks if the person is involved with a gang or extremist group. Who is going to say yes?

It wants to know about former spouses or partners going back five years. What business is it of the police and what possible relevance could it be for a person owning a gun?

The same applies to the question about losing a job five years ago.

So my issue with the police consultation document is that it is an expensive butt-covering exercise.

Further, I don’t believe firearm owners should have to pay for the excesses of the police bureaucracy.

The issue is that many normally law-abiding gun-owning citizens don’t have gun licences. They feel they’ve been mucked about by the system and legitimately so. The fact they are breaking the law is irrelevant. What are the police going to do about it? Those gun owners need to be encouraged back into the system but the police don’t seem remotely interested.

It got even more farcical when a police-licenced pest exterminator shot up houses on the Kāpiti coast. Unbelievably, the police told residents it was a “workplace incident” and took no further action. They certainly seem uninterested in “keeping people safe”. If it was a farmer I’m sure it would’ve been different.

We do need a standalone arms agency, but the government appears subservient to police empire building.

ACT firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee told me that “keeping costs affordable provides incentive for people to stay within the system, keep their firearms secured properly and be accountable”. I totally agree.

ACT firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee told me that “keeping costs affordable provides incentive for people to stay within the system, keep their firearms secured properly and be accountable”. I totally agree.

She added that the police wanted to charge arms owners “the cost of police attendance at a firearms burglary”.

I haven’t been able to find any evidence to support that claim.

I believe it is high time the government was honest and open with the firearms community.

We’re told we’re getting a new agency when we’re not and that new laws will keep us safer while statistics suggest the opposite.

Finally, I don’t believe either the police or the government have any credibility in the current gun debate and I don’t think they care.

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