The latest New Zealand Guns & Hunting​ Magazine editorial provides us all a glimpse of what the Police intend … and its not good.

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As indicated in this issue’s SSANZ Newsletter, reports from Wellington confirm that police are seriously considering tightening the rules on semi-automatic firearms. A Select Committee is hearing submissions at the time of writing. New regulations could involve requiring all clip-fed semi-auto centrefires to be treated as MSSAs, thereby requiring their owners to hold E-Cat licences, which in turn means upgraded security.

If that happens thousands of rifles (and possibly high-capacity semi-auto shotguns?) will have their legal status altered, and thousands of individual shooters will be up for new licence documentation and security, plus the associated costs and delays.

Controversially, to counter this, a submission from a well-known member of the firearms community suggests the re-introduction of a simple form of gun registration – he believes it is vital that firearm users offer positive changes, rather than have the opinions of non-user groups become legislation. He believes that registration would make owners more accountable for security, and require them to take the responsibility of gun ownership more seriously.

This is essentially a pre-emptive idea, intended to counter suggestions that whole categories of guns be restricted or banned.

Regardless of the motives, registration and/or altering the status of A-Cat semi-autos would be a massive bureaucratic intervention that will cause considerably disruption to shooters and the shooting sports. Either option will likely cost a fortune, tie up endless hours of police time better spent fighting real crime, overwhelm the licensing system, and compliance will never reach anywhere near 100%.

The calls for change are coming from the Police Association who tell us that front-line police are increasingly facing firearms in their daily work, and that significant numbers of semi-auto centrefires have fallen into criminal hands in recent times, mainly through burglaries. The combination of these two things worries police for obvious reasons.

Nonetheless, again we are talking pre-emption. Police would like to reduce the likelihood of coming up against a criminal with a high capacity semi-auto rifle, but that’s a risk factor that cannot be quantified. How many homicides or violent crimes have been committed with semi-auto firearms in New Zealand in the past 12 months? I doubt that there has been a single one over that period, and probably going back a lot further. Up until now the present laws and regulations have been working as well as anyone could expect.

People who start worrying about what could happen face a lifetime of anxiety because the possibilities are endless. Better to stick to the probabilities, but even those can be hard to judge.
Regardless, change seems inevitable – whether those changes serve any practical purpose remains to be seen.

Peter Maxwell
Editor & Publisher…”