Guest Opinion by Rupert Pye
Following the terrible Christchurch shooting, government backed by Nationa’s, rushed through with “indecent haste” law banning military style weapons and laid out confiscation of military style weapons via buy-back.
The law lacked thought and foresight. That is becoming more apparent day by day. However before I delve into those aspects, might I add the manner in which government – all three parties Labour, Greens and NZ First – indulged in indecent haste flew in the face of democratic principles upon which society is based.
NZ First’s Clayton Mitchell assured the firearm owning public, the select committee considering the bill, had acted fairly. This was impossible for it was reported there were over 11,000 submissions. The select committee MPs had only a few days to read 11,000 submissions. Does that sound even remotely possible?
The Law Society President argued the bill was being passed too fast. Even officials themselves noted in the analysis of the bill that they had very little time to properly scrutinise the details.
Fast-tracked in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, the new law banned most types of semi-automatic weapons from sale and use in New Zealand, as well as a number of associated parts. National backed the bill, and National front-bencher Judith Collins injudiciously was reported to have lashed out at a law abiding firearm owner making submissions.
Now allow me, dear reader, to make two things clear. I cannot understand why anyone would want to own a military style weapon. But then I don’t understand why some people collect biro pens or matchboxes. The other aspect which politicians failed to comprehend – and it was so basic – was the only ones to surrender firearms as required by the new law, would be law abiding firearm owners. The underworld comprising the likes of drug peddlers, gangs, criminals, white supremacists and potential terrorists would not surrender their illegal weapons.
It gets worse than that. I received reports of military style weapons being sold to the underworld elements. One e mail said “a friend just sold his A cat 15 to the local Mongrel mob for $3500” Another e mail from the Central North Island told of “a local who got $5000 for his (military style weapon) from a Headhunters member.” As one person on the e mail trail put it “this is a bonanza for the gangs who have plenty of money and a great opportunity, to upgrade their arsenals.”
I don’t approve of owners of military style weapons selling them under the table so as to speak, to law breakers. It is immoral. But it was Parliament that created the climate for that to occur because they failed to think coolly and clearly and by doing such, showing disrespect for democracy in the bill passed with thoroughly indecent haste.
Politicians failed miserably. Only ACT’s David Seymour had the courage and intelligence to oppose the panicked stupidity.
In my humble opinion, it would have been common-sense to have simply required owners of military styled weapons to give the police the registration numbers of military styled weapons so as to be recorded.
The police with several of senior spokesman obviously with a prejudice against firearms, were to blame too for provoking a reaction that has seen the gangs and criminals – and would be terrorists – more heavily armed – with illegal weapons. Consequently and arguably the stupidity has increased the chances of another terrorist attack in the future.
Instead the law makers, public servants such as police should have been asking questions about the Christchurch tragedy. Why, how and on whose instructions was Tarrant given a firearms licence especially with irregularities in his application which should have rung alarm bells? Reportedly Tarrant was under surveillance in his native Australia.
There was a hysterical reaction by the prime minister and all parties (except ACT) to the Christchurch massacre. It was fair enough, in my opinion, that a video which claimed to portray Tarrant shooting a semi-automatic rifle should be banned. But it leaves the question what has government and National responsible for three government terms (2008-2017) done about mass shootings portrayed in video games, horrifying acts of murder by shooting and burning appearing regularly on television news and in television programmes? What of puerile paint-ball games where people enjoy the pretence of firing a pretend firearm at others in killing spree style?
Yes I know many of us older ones played “cowboys and indians” as kids. But paint-ball games are adults – not kids – playing pretend killing sprees.
Have the politicians considered “cause and effect?” The Christchurch shooting was the “effect.”
The causes are in an increasingly aggressive, violent and selfish society – that is mentally sick.