• Video: Licensed firearm owners have been wrongfully targeted by the Labour Government's gun laws, says ACT's spokesperson

Video: Licensed firearm owners have been wrongfully targeted by the Labour Government's gun laws, says ACT's spokesperson

The firearm legislation brought in by the Labour Government after the Christchurch massacre has wrongfully targeted licensed firearm owners, says ACT’s firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee.

McKee, a firearms instructor who entered politics on the back of protests by licensed gun owners, made this statement in an interview with Hawke’s Bay App in Napier.

“I think they are most definitely being targeted, and I think wrongfully targeted as well. After the horrific events of March 15th, 2019, the Labour government put through two pieces of urgent legislation. They did so without communicating, not only with the licensed community, the law-abiding community, but without waiting for the Royal Commission inquiry to find out what it is that went wrong.”

“When that came out, it actually showed that it was the process of licensing that went wrong. The terrorist, Brenton Tarrant, was not a Kiwi. He came over from Australia. Yet, it's all the 250,000 licensed owners that are Kiwis that have been blamed and targeted for that.”

McKee says the process the terrorist went through was incorrect and was not the same process that licensed firearm owners in New Zealand usually go through.

“That definitely needs to be tightened up. My whole reason for coming into politics was based upon those legislative changes. I had a business as a firearm safety instructor, and actually contracted to New Zealand police to deliver firearm safety.”

“And I could see, in 2019 and 2020, that those changes were not going to keep New Zealand safe. In fact, it had the potential to make gun crime worse, and make us as a country worse with gun crime. And that's exactly what's happened. “

She says that between December 2022 and May 2023, gang members committed 2.8 firearm offenses “every single day”.

“Not one of them is licensed. And all the effect of the legislative changes that we've had, has actually come on those that are licensed that are not committing the crime.”

She claims that police, in their response, said that licensed owners had given gangs their guns.

“Well, I dispute that. And I asked the New Zealand police for a written parliamentary question, ‘How many straw buyers are there? And how many guns have gone sideways from legitimate owners?’ And they told me they don't keep that information. They've said, ‘We need to have a gun registry in order to keep New Zealanders safe.’ I believe it's not even an ambulance at the bottom of the hill.

McKee says ACT asked New Zealand Police how many firearms had been seized from non-licensed people in the last 12 months.

“And to the 1st of July 2023, the figure's 1,213. That's a lot of firearms from unlicensed people. So we asked, ‘How many had serial numbers on them?’ And there's only 394. So we, at the moment, have put $340 million into a system that includes a registry. And yet, we've got only 32 and a half percent of firearms that have been seized actually having a serial number on them.”

“We could actually put that money into the gangs, or targeting gangs, targeting the illegal use. And those 1,213 firearms, actually, there's a lot more out there. And police have estimated 180,000 to 200,000 are out there in illegal ownership. That's where we should be putting our money, and that's where we should be targeting firearm, or illicit firearm, crime.”

Asked what the legitimate reason was for allowing licensed firearm owners to buy semi-automatic weapons, McKee said there were groups that needed them.

“Duck shooters use semi-automatics in their maimai when they're shooting through duck shooting season. Pest controllers use semi-automatics for the humane dispatch of multiple animals.”

“It's about the difference between having a herd of 15 goat, and being able to take them all out, or only take out five with a bolt-action. We have so many pests in New Zealand, and they are getting well and truly out of control since the bans came in. There is legitimate reason for having semi-automatics and high capacity magazines.”

She says that any firearm is capable of causing harm if it's used inappropriately.

“And we, at ACT, believe it's important that we put the emphasis on fit and proper use and ownership. Not on the firearm, but actually on the person. Because whether it's a 22, a shotgun, or a centerfire cartridge, they all have that capacity to cause harm if used inappropriately. But all of them have their use, and legitimately so. So we should not confine those that have that legitimate reason from not being able to use them, based on what somebody else did.”

“Actually, let's look at the person and make sure that they are fit and proper to have the legitimate use and ownership of those guns.”