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Candidates’ views on gun control

There was a big crowd at Friday’s candidates’ debate on firearms legislation in Masterton. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Wairarapa General Election candidates are hitting their straps at candidate debate roadshows, one of which was held to discuss amendments to the Arms Legislation Act 2020.

Author and Martinborough Bookstore owner Deborah Coddington chaired the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners [Colfo] debate at the Masterton Club last week, attended by candidates Ron Mark [NZ First], Mike Butterick [National], Celia Wade-Brown [Green] and Nicole McKee [ACT number three on act list] and a room packed with engaged voters.

Coddington told the gathering she had fired a gun, owned a gun, and had been shot at by a friend with a BB gun.

“I was not hit because I was turning a cartwheel at the time,” Coddington said.

The evening began with presentations from Australian firearms expert Dr Samara McPhedran and 50 Shades of Green spokesman Derek Daniell who spoke as an experienced hunter.

After last year’s killings at Christchurch mosque. the Arms Act was amended to ban most semi-automatic firearms, some pump action shotguns, some tubular magazine firearms, and certain large capacity magazines.

It also brought in more licensing requirements.

In July 2019, Colfo launched its ‘Fair and Reasonable’ campaign protesting against the banning of many firearms and new regulations around licensing.

“As licensed firearm owners we believed our continued access to firearms was dependent on our actions, that we would lose or keep access as a result of what we did. It is no surprise that we felt cheated when our access was determined by the atrocious actions of a person who wasn’t even a New Zealand citizen,” council chair Michael Dowling said.

“It was important for us as a community to show the public, and politicians, that the overwhelming majority of licensed firearms owners are good, decent, law-abiding people. And that we certainly should not be defined by the actions of a single hate-filled foreign terrorist.”

Butterick said additional red tape and more regulation were reasons so many farmers struggled with mental illness and more regulations wouldn’t help.

“The legislation will drive those issues underground and that is plain dumb,” Butterick said.

He agreed with Mark who said that licensing and regulation should not be the role of the police, and a new independent arms authority should be established.

“We don’t do it with drivers’ licences we should not do it with gun licences,” Mark said.

He said NZ First had pushed out the timeline for licensing by three years because the party did not believe the licence would make any difference and delay would help calm the intensity of the situation down.

“Time is your friend in these times,” Mark said.

Wade-Brown said she and her boys had hunted on their land.

“Bludgeoning a possum to death” was not good and there were better ways to do it, agreeing that guns had a role on farms. She broadened the discussion to gun use by police, gangs, and in domestic violence situations and said that evidently guns used by gang members were unregistered so licensing would make no difference in that situation.

Since the event, Colfo has advised its members not to vote Labour, Greens, or NZ First.

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