As we commented previously, until 15 March this wasn’t an issue in NZ. Once the final form of the new law is known, we’ll send an OIA to the police asking more statistical questions about the subject. —Eds
by Roger Childs
“We know that without that without modified semi-automatic weapons this man would not have been able to kill this many people.” Anjum Rahman of the Islamic Women’s Council
Many years ago, I remember seeing a Second World War film in which Audie Murphy mowed down a long row of German soldiers with his machine gun. On 15 March 2019, the Australian terrorist was able to kill 50 people with much more sophisticated semi-automatic weapons, bought legally in New Zealand.
As readers are aware, the government, with the the National Party’s support, is banning such weapons, despite the noisy opposition of the gun lobby.
A common reaction to learning about the country’s gun laws has been disbelief that such rapidly firing weapons were actually legal. How could you possibly justify the use of “machine guns” in New Zealand? It has been argued that some farmers use them for pest control, but is there evidence for that? Fish and Game chief executive, Martin Taylor, probably sums up the views of most Kiwis – Military-style semi-automatics have no place in New Zealand.
Those who favour leaving the law as it is, argue that banning these weapons will drive those who want them underground; people will still be able to get them and what about collectors? However, the fact remains that the terrorist bought his weapons in New Zealand legally and subsequently carried out the 15 March massacre.
Where there have been amnesties overseas, such as in Australia, thousands of “illegal” weapons have been handed in. No doubt that will happen here. Most New Zealanders probably agree that the time for tightening gun control laws is now, and there is reassurance for gun owners that the proposed changes do not affect weapons such as pistols and rifles used in gun clubs, or by hunters and farmers. The Select Committee looking into the proposed legislation was told that the previous attempt to change the laws after the Aramoana shootings failed and as time passed the issue seemed less important.
There is no question that potential terrorists will still be able to get military-style weapons despite the law changes, however making it impossible for them to be bought legally has to be a step forward.