In the firing line

As the door closes on public submissions for the Government’s proposed new Arms Regulations — specifically aimed at gun clubs and shooting ranges — I’m shaking my head.

The proposals are a targeted attack on legitimate individuals and groups within our society.

And for the people I represent, alarm bells are ringing … loudly!

The new proposals are among the second set of gun law changes Labour intends bringing in, as its response to 2019’s attack by a lone shooter, on two Christchurch mosques.

But the amendments, despite this guise, have a much wider reach.

They will instead, prevent or make it harder for law-abiding citizens to use firearms in a controlled environment like a shooting range.

Firearms users go to these places to learn and/or enjoy the sport of target, rifle or pistol shooting.

Experts are available to teach people how to use firearms safely, allow people to use firearms without the need to own one or a gun safe and assist them in obtaining a firearms licence. They also assist parents by providing a stricter hand in instructing their children.

Moreover the proposals will threaten the very existence of clubs and ranges with added layers of red tape.

This includes a new certification system (at a proposed cost of $830 per inspection), force clubs to become incorporated societies and mandate that all office holders hold a firearms licence. Many of whom have retired from needing one, but volunteer to maintain the books and keep the admin in order.

Despite the removal of 10,000 guns via the gun buyback scheme — almost all from licensed honest citizens — there has been no reduction in firearm-related offences.

In fact, quite the opposite.

The Government is not focused on what we believe is the sole objective — to get firearms out of the hands of those who intend to use them to do harm.

And that should be the aim of any firearms legislation.

Naturally, I’ve had several people contact me on this issue to discuss the submissions they were making before last week’s May 4 close-off date.

Administrators of clubs and ranges feel the Government is using the proposals as a way of getting rid of them altogether.

While no-one disagrees with the need to keep a tight system on firearms licensing and their use in this country, the method leaves a lot to be desired.

The Government has firmly set its sights on the way gun clubs and ranges have operated for decades in this country.

Bringing in huge cost and complexity for them is not how you solve the rapidly rising use of guns by gangs and criminals. Nor does it provide greater public safety.

Instead allow firearms prohibition orders giving police warrantless search powers to go after these illegal users with illicit firearms.

Now that’s a far better idea.