Gun control needs more silver lining

by Matt King

If March 15 had any silver-linings, they are hard to find. I can locate perhaps three. Foremost among them is the way we responded as a people, exhibiting all those qualities I have mentioned. Second, we have a heightened sense of security that over time will undoubtedly play out as New Zealand being an even safer country.

Third, is the immediate ban on the sale of automatic weapons. That is a good move and one widely supported in parliament, including by myself.

I have a couple of issues with the broader gun control legislation. The first is that in recalling all automatic and semi-automatic weapons in legal and illegal ownership, those least likely to comply are the illegal owners such as the gangs.

“At least one gang, and I refuse to give them any publicity by naming them, has said they won’t be handing in their weapons as they “need them for defence”.

Given that, I believe we should give police more extensive powers to search and seize on gang premises with little more cause than the supposition that illegal guns are present. The ill-conceived statement by that gang is an open admission that they have guns. That should be more than enough for a police raid — right?

My second issue that this is an important issue and one deserving of respect and consideration. What it didn’t deserve, what no legislation deserves or should have, is to be rushed through with a one-day sitting of a select committee ‘in the heat of the moment’.

It is complex, it affects many people, and it doesn’t specifically address the gangs. Whilst I agree with the immediate banning of the sale of these weapons, the recall of those already out there will take time. The government could have used that time to draft more robust and less confusing legislation.

What they have done, however, in this knee-jerk action, is set a dangerous precedent that goes to the core of our legislative process, and that is where I have a real concern.