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Joining the Criminal Class

Stuart Nash – happy to send us all to jail.
Judith Collins – shameless self promoter.
Commissioner Bush – very poor judgment.

Many of us use a shotgun to keep the birds off the grapes or take a rifle along on a cathartic hike in the hills after a stag when vintage is over, but the tragic events of March 15 have turned many of us into criminals.  Paul Taggart takes a look at how our politicians are tragically inadequate.

My transition from relatively well adjusted middle-aged bloke to grumpy old man was fairly sudden. It happened soon after the Christchurch mosques tragedies in March.

The events of that day were utterly appalling and, as a consequence, anything and everything the government did in the aftermath was off limits to criticism, for fear of somehow being seen as less than supportive of the bereaved.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s stocks were boosted enormously by her response, and for a few weeks it was as if we were ruled by a messiah. But opportunists were quickly at work, as such events provide fertile ground for those with agendas.

After the worst terrorism of this century, the 9/11 attacks, the United States lashed out in a number of directions, with the invasion of Iraq being the most controversial.

Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it, said Winston Churchill. Jacinda Ardern worked as a policy advisor for Tony Blair, who followed George W Bush into Iraq so she, more than most, should know to take a breath before reacting.

But after March 15 our prime minister did exactly what President Bush did – she hit out at a target that did not deserve to feel her lash.

And that’s where my personal beef comes in. Since my teenage years I have been a licensed firearms owner; first in Britain then in New Zealand after emigrating here in my 20s. I am not a particularly active shooter and have never owned a military style semi-automatic (MSSA).

I’ve always understood it is my right to have a firearms licence unless the police showed there was just cause why I should not. Being of sound mind and never having been a wife beater, I felt I was fairly safe.

In fact, my criminal record is cleaner than police commissioner Mike Bush’s, as he is a convicted drunk driver. Kiwi drunk drivers can’t get a visa to enter Canada, yet we have one running our police force. You have to wonder. Also sitting at the police top table is Willy Haumaha, who has been accused of belittling and humiliating women.

So two men proven to have poor judgment were probably advising the prime minister, and collectively they approved new legislation that means that I, after 40 years as a licensed firearms owner in two countries, have suddenly become a criminal. The reason that has occurred is because politicians of all stripes were told that MSSAs are evil and should be confiscated from all owners and destroyed, as that was the type of firearm used in the Christchurch shootings. I’m not getting into that debate, because I have mixed views on MSSAs. However, between politicians’ calls for an MSSA ban and the law being drafted, all sorts of extra stuff was slipped into the bill. By whom isn’t clear.

The extra clauses and amendments mean that innocuous firearms from Winchester cowboy guns dating from the 1880s, some duck shooters’ shotguns and my deer rifle are now illegal.

My Browning rifle has a magazine that holds four rounds and has a floor-plate that prevents it having a large-capacity magazine inserted. It is a semi-automatic designed for deer hunting and has been popular for decades with left-handed people like me who, for many years, had limited choices in bolt-action rifles.

And yet, because the law change was rushed through before there was any opportunity for many people to read or absorb it, or question its utter stupidity, I am now left with a choice. I have to hand in my rifle, to have it crushed (or possibly stolen from a police station), or I face seven years behind bars.

Another burr under my saddle is the PR spin that has surrounded this issue. One example – when police were talking about the guns they were keen to confiscate they were “weapons” – as in weapons of war, even when they were referring to sporting rifles or shotguns. When eleven were stolen from a Palmerston North police station, they then became the much less aggressive “firearms”.

Politicians were appalling in the way they pushed legislation through at breakneck pace while riding a wave of public disgust after the shootings. Some were more appalling than others.

Judith Collins sank to a remarkable low when she attacked a submitter to the select committee personally over a past conviction overseas, which was nothing to do with the matter in hand. The battle had already been won, the select committee was a charade, the law was going to pass, so her performance for the cameras was shameless self-promotion.

Hearing police minister Stuart Nash say with apparent glee in a TV interview that those who failed to obey the new law would be jailed for seven years was probably the turning point for me in my transition to grumpy old man. What a stupid person Nash is.

We all know that real criminals often don’t go to jail, even when they commit serious offences and when the law allows for substantial sentences.

Hearing him spouting off about owning a firearm being a privilege not a right was also irritating. He was wrong in his assertion, but even if he had been correct – what gives him the arrogance to terminate my privileges after 40 years of faultless firearms

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has been calling for the jail gates to be flung open and thirty percent of serious criminals to be let loose to offend again. But people like me – with fewer convictions than the police commissioner – could now be filling those cells, and spending the next seven years feeding the pigs and listening to the guards slurping Slushies at Christchurch Men’s Prison. Then there is the firearms buy-back. The cost will be massive and may not make the slightest difference to public safety.

There are areas where the same amount of money would, without question, save lives – Pharmac is one. Being the widower of a victim of breast cancer myself, seeing women being forced to sell their family homes to travel overseas for drug treatments that are unavailable in New Zealand hurts me deeply.

The prime minister can snap her fingers and let the children, parents and grandparents of those who were at the mosques at the time of the shooting flood in to New Zealand, provide them with houses, benefits and healthcare, with no thought as to the cost to our country, yet she turns a blind eye while Kiwi women die for lack of a few thousand dollars for cutting-edge cancer drugs.

So, I’m unhappy. I’m grumpy at the government and disappointed at the opposition – who forgot their purpose is to oppose, or at the very least question. Saddened too with the police who used a tragedy to achieve a goal they couldn’t achieve through the courts or through the political system in more normal times.

56 thoughts on “Joining the Criminal Class”

  • And no one here is been willing to admit that one MP did stand up for good parliamentary process? His abhorrence of reactionary law-making is very appropriate in these circumstances, although the remaining 119 members of the House of Representatives clearly disagree on that point or they are too gutless to move away from caucus group-think and party rules to express their support for David Seymour’s valid position (and in turn represent the views held by their constituents). It’s worth repeating that it was not only the Coalition of Labour, NZ First and the Greens that pushed through this law – National jumped in boots and all too.

  • Very well said Paul. And I am very sorry to learn that your wife passed away. Even if this country could afford to waste a billion dollars on a gun confiscation it would still be wrong – but with NZers needlessly suffering and dying because of Parmac’s outdated and unserviceable paradigm – and with the outrageously poor state of the rest health system (hospitals falling apart, women giving birth in offices due to a pack of facilities, cynical management of tragically long waiting lists ETC)…
    – the mess that is our education system; the inability of our underfunded police to keep up with the P epidemic; the terrible state of our dilapidated,r overcrowded roads….

    – the looming catastrophe around superannuation and the current one with our inability to home our people – while still allowing an unwanted FLOOD of immigrants coming to NZ…

    Lighting a match to around one billion dollars in a poorly conceived and shoddily constructed effort to confiscate firearms will be a total waste and arguably criminal. If the intention is to stop mass killings, gang crime or terrorism, they are deluded. This is Exceptional Strength bullshit.

    Can you tell I’m a bit grumpy too?

  • Hi Grumpy A cat owner
    I feel for us all that we are losing something that brings joy to us.I was trying to show the intent back in the 90’s.You have your AR 10 legally because importers changed designs to get around the restrictive controls the police put in place to force you to apply for Ecat.An AR 10 never was designed with a 5 round mag why would you go into battle with 5 rounds when you can have 20 or 30 rounds,there were also other designs changes made as well.Now a real market was created open to every liecence holder and the importers protected it by getting all sorts of groups on there side not just 5 people.It takes people with alot of influence and power to to sway a poly’s vote.They were not fighting for my rites or freedom,it was about money always is.I don’t care if there were one million e cat holders in NZ at lest you would have had to follow the true intent of the law as set out in 1991 i think bringing in e cat.Sounds like we are both good citizens of our great country but there is a fair amount of people that arn’t that have easy access to these weapons.I have a very small influence and will use it next year.

  • Well, the definition of stupidity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

    So keep on voting for the same retards you have for the last umpteen generations, and this is what you’ll get.

    “But who else do we vote for?”

    – get off your arses and get involved in the political process personally. National are as bad as Labour. They’re on the same page here.

    NZ First? What a fucking joke. A one man band with a string of sad thick yes-people in train.

    I say this as both a winemaker and a 36-year FAL holder, as well as an ex-MP.

    Tonight I’m on a plane for the US.

    New Zealand isn’t my home anymore.

    Good luck, but so long.

  • All very good points and very poorly thought out and written legislation. I personally think the largest hurdle the government has to overcome is people actually handing their guns in….as far as I can tell its not happening. I a gun owner know many other gun owners and I haven’t heard of anyone handing a gun over???

    • True that. I hear that less than 500 been handed in. Everyone is waiting for how much money they going to hand over. no money – no honey, so the saying goes.

  • Well written. The law changes don’t make us any safer. A gang member has already said that he can do what he likes and Maori can now take over the country now that everyone has been disarmed. The real intent of the law is to disarm us so that we are defenceless. The thing for me is that I was going to take up competitive shooting as a sport now that I am retired. As I spent 21 years in the NZ Army I was going to specialise in Military rifles and pistols. I had checked what I needed to do to comply and it was an awful lot. I have found that the vast majority of legitimate firearm owners are very responsible. There was a shooting in Christchurch by a left wing maniac who killed 51 people and injured many more, but to put that into perspective far more people are killed and injured in New Zealand every year by people using their phones while driving.

  • I am a MSSA owner.I applied for my E cat in 1990-91 when it was first brought in.It was to track and log where each of these rifles were and i total agreed with what the police did back then.They are more dangerous than a bolt action rifle in the wrong hands that is why all militaries in the world have gone to semi auto’s.I did take them to the range for some fun but also used them for pest control on farms eg goats,deer and pigs.Cost effective TB control for farmers,they got a service for free.I have been a law abidding citizen,never been in trouble with the police.Alot of people will not agree with my next statement.
    A cat owners should never have been able to own these rifles,i blame the greedy gun dealers and importers who changed the designs to get around laws and then sell to the masses which was never intended.I have been vetted over the years by police and the main reason i kept them was pest control.Yes they should be taken off A cat people.There was a higher vetting proccess for E cat and if you wanted MSSA’s you should have gone threw that proccess,to late now.Yes i am grumpy.A cat people who brought pistol grips,sliding stocks and large magazines and fitted to guns you deserve what you get if caught but again to late now.E cat owners should have been left alone in this proccess.The police know exactly where my MSSA’s are and i have no problem with that.Police tried to stop MSSA’s selling to the masses many years ago but gun lobby groups ,dealer and importers had to much sway with politicians.Yes i am grumpy i lost my fun and probably not labour supporter anymore.Just waiting to get ripped off as well in buy back, can’t wait.

    • Good points, Eric. If the police had restricted their gun grab to A cat MSSAs (almost certainly what the Christchurch killer used) this buy back process would have been a lot less difficult – although there would have still been a lot of upset people. It is the fact the police pushed too far, going for E cat weapons (which are well regulated) and genuine hunting A cat semi-automatic rifles such as the the Brownings that has resulted in the genuine disgust at their behaviour. It is hard to know how this will end, but we may get a clue when the government releases the buy back details in the next few days.

    • Hi Eric,

      I’m an A-Cat owner, with an AR-10. I bought it for Deer Hunting. I have an Aftermarket, A-Cat Legal stock on it, and a number of imported 5 round Magazines.

      I, Like you, am also a Law Abiding permanent Resident. Like you, I am now deemed and treated like a Criminal. Like you I doubt I will get fairly compensated for my Rifle.

      If you look at the detail of the so-called ‘Gun Lobby’ – which amounts to about 5 people – each time the Government proposed changes to the Arms Act – there was always included legislative measures that were restrictive/impractical/counter-productive.

      The Government never proceeded with changes where there was support for those changes, if part of the proposals was met with obstruction, the whole change was scrapped. So ask yourself this – is it the fault of a handful of people that worked hard for 30 years to protect your freedoms or is it the fault of the organization that failed to vet the Terrorist appropriately, failed to propose sensible legislation and chose to eschew actual democracy and replace it with something akin to a Stalinist show trial?

      I finally ask that you think of people like me a little more kindly, we are no more at fault than you are and we are being punished just as harshly as you are too.

      • Some good points, here. A-cat AR owners who didn’t alter their weapons are hit by the new legislation too. This shouldn’t be an A-cat v. E-cat disagreement. We have all been hurt by low-quality politicians.

  • excellent and well said, these idiots have no idea they think nz will be a safer place once they take these guns off the law abiding registered gun owners?…….. so the only ones left with MSSA’s are going to be the gangs and the psychopaths most likely to use them to kill other humans, they have achieved less than nothing.

  • Totally disagree with this article and totally support the law change. As a rural NZ I am very aware of those who presume to believe the gun laws do not apply to them and are arrogant enough to be a law unto themselves and expect to get away with it. City folks come on out in the wilderness with little disregard to landowners and stock, safety and nuisance. Often when challenged they become aggressive and quite frankly, scary.
    Of course, this is a minority and its a sad state of affairs that it requires a blanket response. However until the mentality of these self absorbed individuals can prove society is safe from them and the right to bear dangerous weapons is earnt, things should go back to stronger controls we had in the 70s when guns were kept in strong rooms that police inspected every year, and when weapons could only be sourced on presentation of a current licence from a registered dealer.

    • Hi Shelley. I understand your point, but hunters with bolt-action rifles and unarmed trampers can also have no respect for land owners. Also, bolt-action rifles can be “dangerous”, as can knives, cars, tractors, climbing mountains and knitting needles. When do we stop banning things and have some respect for our law-abiding citizens who usually do the right thing. (Keep in mind it wasn’t one of our citizens who is alleged to have committed this horrible crime).

  • Well I said. I like you have 40 years of untarnished firearms use and WAS an e-cat license holder so the police have a complete inventory of all within my gun safe. We e-cat license holders are double checked and vetted and inspected. We were were just ducks on the water to coin a phrase. I will never declare anything ever again and NEVER NEVER trust the authorities ever again. I too have been forced to become a grumpy old man. The guns the politicians and police were trying to ban went underground as soon as Jacinda opened her mouth!!! They never knew where they were in the first instant!!!

  • Well said totally agree I to am now a really grumpy old man after 45 years of law abiding ownership and use of firearms for hunting have now being punished by totally ignorant and stupid politicians putting together a law based on a hasty and undemocratic process where not enough time was invested in getting full public submission .It only confirms my assertion of the low IQ of people who go into politics .and how power corrupts totally.

  • We could have a mass protest in wellington or hand all fire arms in on last day or do nothing but you wont do any of that and you will lose them all.

  • I agree .The Loyal law abiding citizens who go to work every day and pay their taxes have been let down and craped on by group of government workers who seem to be totaly inadequate in there endeavors to keep us safe. My heart also goes out to the family of that youg lady who was murdered. Like most government departments no one is really held accountable because the PC brigade has moved in .
    Thanks for expressing the views of many fellow New Zealanders

  • Thank you for writing this; agree completely. This abuse of democracy in which all but one politician in our parliament actively supported, together with a gleeful Police force who are on their way to being openly and publicly armed (their long desired end-game) is disgusting. A blatant misuse of power which should serve as a warning to all – this is 1930’s Germany ‘democracy’. If a minority group can be so easily ignored, abused and criminalised then what does this mean the next time our Parliament decides they know best?

    And all they have done is force thousands of now illegal guns underground which will over time end up in the hands of people that should not have them (and bring about the openly armed Police). The consequence is that crime will increase from our current and historically very low level. And it all could have been avoided, and sensible reform instituted, if they had instead taken a mature approach and worked with the very people they have alienated – licensed firearms owners.

    We need far, far better leadership than this.

    • This is one of the best replies to a very good article. I absolutely agree with you. Democracy has been shafted. Every time I have seen a police officer since March they have been armed. Even the one in front of me at the BP. One other thing that will change is the police will lose any negotiation skills they had and will just pull a firearm.

  • Thank you for timely and erudite synopsis. The PM, Minister of Police, Police Commissioner and Judith Collins conveniently chose to omit the fact that Abdul Aziz thwarted an attack on the second mosque armed with a firearm!

    • Hi Diablo, From what I’ve read, Abdul picked up a firearm that had been discarded by the shooter. His actions were remarkably brave and probably avoided additional loss of life. A sad fact is we can only find out these details by reading the foreign press (this was from an interview Abdul did with Gulf News in Dubai). The main New Zealand media companies have all signed agreements they will self-sensor, so we are only told what the government wants us to know. I’m of the view that a judge should decide what information the public is allowed to know, not the prime minister.

  • Prior to the Ch Ch shootings there would have been a few thousand illegal gun owners now there are most likely about two hundred and fifty thousand of us. Lew

  • What a rod for their back has the present Government, Police and those other Political parties made for themselves by a knee jerk,feel good, pathetic excuse for the new firearms and related equipment banning legislation. The present person in custody charged with the Mosque tragedy will have his day in Court as is the law. “HE” broke the law so why have all persons holding a firearms license now been turned into criminals? I concur with all the statements above but what interests me is: All MSSAs, Semi-automatics, high capacity magazines and a whole raft of related items are now ILLEGAL and BANNED, BUT, the people at present who have them, and, who are now NOT FIT AND PROPER to have them, have been told by the Police to hang on to them until they can get this utter debacle sorted. SO WHERE IS THE DANGER? It cannot be us firearms owners, can it? So who is it? Maybe we should be looking towards our present and future Politicians and Governments. We want thinkers not social climbers glory hunters and paper signers No, I do not have an MSSA but new legislation will affect me. Personally, I have served my country both in the Military and in civilian life to the best of my ability and now listed as a person (not citizen) as a potential threat to society by law. Do you ever get that “gutted” feeling.

  • I may be stating the obvious here, but as of right now ninety five percent or more of the “banned” firearms are still in the safes of their law abiding (licensed and vetted) owners safes and have been for the past three months. This means that technically speaking the public are no safer than they were on the 14th of March, and yet how many licensed firearms owners have gone on a shooting spree and taken innocent lives? None that I’m aware of…

  • A brilliant narrative yet there is so much more to this that is wrong. Who gave this guy a licence in the first place and who wrote the law which allows the 30 shot mags to be sold to anyone???
    Who failed to act on information identifying the shooter as a potential risk?
    Doc can employ security companies to spy on anti 1080 protesters yet our security departments failed to identify the Australian Terrorist.
    All this is brushed under the carpet…….
    Honest, I don’t think so. And yes, I too am now a grumpy old man.

    • After Aromoana the mag dize wss reduced to 5. Who changed it? And in 84 the police remover tge firearms registration system and replaced it with nothing

      • Gaty, after 91, an “E Category” license was created. This requires very extensive vetting. In the 27 years there have been a grand total of zero incidents involving E-category license holders deliberately misusing their e-category firearms.
        The original E-category was primarily semi-automatic centrefire rifles with a magazine capacity above 7 rounds, or any “scary looking” semi-automatic rifles. They apparently failed to make large capacity magazines an e-category item.
        What the foreign terrorist did, was he purchased an A category semi-automatic rifle (with a magazine 7 rounds or less), then went and purchased large capacity magazines separately, essentially this became equivalent to an E-category rifle, which was highly illegal for him to possess, with only an A category license. The fact that he was able to do this without restriction (other than it being illegal at his end) hilights what happens when laws are essentially written by Police, rather than through a legitimate process involving key stakeholders.
        The did it wrong last time, and they’re doing it even worse this time.

    • Neville, he got a license when some very incompetent NZ POLICE arms office staff failed to check his Australian Police file.
      Again, NZ POLICE were responsible for the poorly thought through law the last time, where 30 round mags did not require any license to purchase. They should have required an E-category license.
      Again, NZ POLICE failed to act upon information given to them, identifying the shooter as a potential risk.
      Again, this whole thing is just an exercise in diverting attention away from the second biggest culprit: NZ POLICE.

  • Well, as it turns out, owning a firearm in NZ IS a privilege, not a right. Thank God for the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution. The lefties would take away all are guns if they could, they’ve been trying for 50 yrs. Stack it high and stack it deep!

  • Absolutely agree, the whole process was an abuse of power. It completely bypassed democratic process, beware of aggressive left wing politicians.

  • Abosutely perfect writting somes it up for all the law abiding citizens with a perfect firearms license to carry guns for pest control and recreational hunting, the politicians certainly have this one wrong, make our voices heard at the next election. My concern is what will be next to legislate on for our good without consultion, starting to sound like the beginnings of a commumist state, think carefully and save our democratic right to have a say.

  • Agree and support you. Hold on to your rifle and keep it tucked away. Mass disobedience is the only way now to prevent the erosion of your rights. The goals just are not big enough to hold everyone, so do not worry. It is sad but looking back on history one can see situations where the people have had to oppose their governments in any way possible. The oppression of the Irish during their potatoes crop failure is just one of many examples. It is a shock when suddenly one is faced with the need for revolution in your previously Benin society, but that’s what the authorities depend on. Getting you before you have a chance to organise a response. So hide your stuff and button down the hatches. Wait and see how the dust settles.

    • Yes. New Zealand is changed forever. RNZP will have to deal with this for decades now. I met my MP, (National) and he said the Gov’t are shitting themselves over what they have started. There is concern for widespread disrespect for the law. Yep. SV

  • Excellent editorial. There are very many of us who feel just as you do so thank you for expressing our thoughts so clearly.

  • A well thought out and put together response. But it’s not over yet . The politicians have a raft of new laws coming up later in the year.

  • Absolutely fantastic piece. Couldn’t agree more, and glad that legal firearms owners are able to speak out now that the emotional knee-jerk reactions havehave calmed down a bit.

  • So well put Paul. A couple of questions, how did Tarrant get a firearms licence given several unusual aspects to his application, irregularities which should have prompted police to check his Australian background where he apparently was under surveillance? What if the terrorist had used a truck? Would Adern backed by NZ First and Greens, have rushed law through undemocratically to ban that style of truck? Also at stake here is freedom of speech and democracy.

    • I was told it was Jacinta Adern who changed the law to allow gun licenses to be done online correct me if I am wrong but early on there was an article about this can’t find any information now wonder why??.

      • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the chair of an executive committee which in 2018 ushered through amendments to the Arms Regulations 2002, to allow Police to accept and process various applications concerning firearms licences and weapons transactions electronically.[41] The Arms (Electronic Transactions) Amendment Regulations 2018[42] were published in the Gazette on 20 December 2018. Previously under the Arms Act, if someone wanted to become a gun dealer, get a firearms licence, import a restricted weapon, or get a permit to buy a military-style semi-automatic, they had to physically deliver an application to their nearest police station. The regulations also allow for a buyer of a restricted weapon to show that weapon to police by video call – whereas in the past they had to take it into the station. Source “Wikipedia “.

  • Interesting how the government select committees sneak in extra wording in laws without much public awareness. They tried to do that to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Act just last year by introducing “self-ID” to declare one’s sex (they call it ‘gender’/’gender identity) which hugely affects women and girls as it basically allows Males to claim that they are Females without any checks/safeguards.

    Now this gun law rushed through that makes honest people criminals. Next on the government’s agenda to restrict are our thoughts and speech to protect others from hurt feelings.

    I am NOT happy with this current government (and the opposition parties are no better) which appears to be run by a bunch of naive clowns more interested in signaling their virtue to their fans than actually making a difference where it is needed most.

  • My guess as to the future of owners of now” illegal ” firearms , is that they will be quietly consigned to a secondary gunsafe .

  • A very very good article. It should go to the NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz, since these news media journalists cant report a correct article.

  • Well written and too the point. Such a shame the powers that be and our lack of opposition don’t care enough to even question their own haste.

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