Where to Now?

By Trevor Dyke  COLFO Spokesperson,

For some time now COLFO has been saying that it will only take another Aramoana to activate the antigun hysteria, and during May such an incident occurred in Napier when Jan Molenaar shot three police officers (1 x fatal) and a member of the public, shocking the nation. Consequently the media and the Philip Alpers of this world now have something to get their teeth into by calling for tougher gun laws in NZ. However it has not only been this incident that has given COLFO a concern, but two others as well. 

What were these incidents? Monday 4 May saw TV One’s Close Up show an item headed, “Mix it up on the Maimai”, depicting irresponsible drunk duck hunters cavorting around in a manner that could only be described as not being “fit and proper people”. Then TV3’s 60 Minutes on Monday 11 May on the purchase of a firearm via Trade Me®. A certain amount of poetic licence was used as we believe that the actual sale was not completed on Trade Me®, but after making arrangements with the seller to uplift the rifle1 in person from him and the seller failed to sight a firearms licence. (A licence holder was with the reporter). This again demonstrates how we are let down. Every Firearm licence holder has a responsibility to ensure that they carry out the procedures that are required by law. Failure to do so just casts dispersions on the rest of us.

COLFO certainly does not condone this sort of irresponsible behaviour involving firearms and firearm sales and would like to see the authorities review the status of the participants as still being ‘fit and proper’ people to continue to hold their firearm licences. We are very concerned about these incidents and the images that they generate around the portrayal of the law abiding licensed firearm owners in the eyes of the general public. This type of minority behaviour casts dispersions on the vast majority of law abiding firearm licence holders and adds fuel to the anti gun brigade. Not only that, COLFO believes that irresponsible sensational journalism has been used.

Information released to date indicates that Jan Molenaar, who was a collector, did not have a firearms licence because it was revoked in 2002, after failing to apply for a new licence, which meant that all the firearms and ammunition he had in his possession were illegal. A further concern of COLFO’s is that there also appears to be some underlying mental health issues and under the current vetting system it is doubtful that he would have qualified for a licence. Several friends and family members have made references indicating he had some issues and they also knew that he had firearms, but no one took responsibility to report it to the appropriate authority. Firearms registration would not have prevented what happened.

COLFO asks, why did this happen? Did the Police follow up the revocation with a visit to ensure that Molenaar did not have any firearms still in his possession? Who did he obtain them from? Do the Police have the resources to carry out these checks? Were the law abiding firearm owners and the public let down and put into the firing line unnecessarily? Nobody knows the answers but we hope this will surface in time.

There has been debate about the Thorpe Report recommendation that the government of the day should have bought back semi automatic firearms and introduce a firearms register. The buy back would have been a very expensive exercise and it is well known by experts that registration does not work It is an expensive experiment in futility, even Justice Thorpe recognised that to succeed the compliance needed to be very high, and given no one accurately knows how many semi automatic firearms are in NZ; how will success be measured? Canada introduced registration for long arms some years ago and the costs have risen 1000% already and by 2012 will exceed $2b. It has been such a failure that a private members bill is being introduced to repeal it.

Knee jerk reactionary comments followed, but COLFO says before rushing off to address anything let’s wait until the emotion has died down and then sit down and discuss the issues in a rational manner. Then, if a change to the legislation is required, let’s do it in a reasoned manner so that any changes identified become good sound and workable legislation for both the public and the users. Perhaps it is the application of the laws that may need to be addressed. COLFO’s position on the current firearms laws is that they are sound.

So what now? Be prepared for the Arms Amendment Bill №3 to surface and possible amendments and additions to be made. If you thought that your firearms were not at risk, now is the time to think again! Think about the types of firearms that Molenaar had in his possession and the possible impacts on your chosen shooting disciplines. It only takes incidents such as those mentioned above to produce a new playing field.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners has a history in the promotion of safe and legal use of firearms. We are a locally member funded organisation, with no overseas funding as Mr Elder claimed. We are a recognised United Nations NGO and opposed to the irresponsible and illegal traffic in firearms. We have recognition locally and internationally as promoters of safe and responsible use of firearms. NGO status is important because it gives you automatic access to UN Conferences.  There are over 3,000 NGOs and COLFO is one of only five pro-firearm, pro-hunting NGOs.  The others are Safari Club International, Sporting Shooters' Association of Australia, SAAMI (American firearms manufacturers) and the American NRA.

Why COLFO is Unique and Important -  COLFO has developed a good reputation at the UN  and the good relationship it has developed with the NZ government is invaluable.  COLFO has the ability to speak and relate benefits to all of the other hunting and sport shooting groups in the world. NZ may be a small country but COLFO’s role can be equal to that of any of the large organisations and we need to take advantage of this opportunity.

The antigun brigade is huge overseas and has access to large amounts of funding. It also has supporting organisations around the world such as Amnesty International and Oxfam who cream off the top of your donations and pass it on to International Action Network on Small Arms, (IANSA), which has over 500 member groups working for gun control and against the proliferation of small arms. Visit their website (www.iansa.org) to see who some of these groups are, you will be very surprised, and then again, you may not.

IANSA’s work is supported by funders including the Governments of UK, Belgium, Sweden and Norway, as well as the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Compton Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Institute, Samuel Rubin Foundation and Christian Aid.

The following has been lifted straight from IANSA’s website:

“What are small arms & light weapons?

The term ‘small arms and light weapons’ refers to weapons that can be carried by a single person, either for military or civilian use. The term is often shortened to ‘small arms’ or ‘SALW’. It covers a wide range of weapons – from pistols, machine guns and other firearms, to grenades, portable anti-tank systems and mortars. For more details, see the UN’s Report of the Panel of Government Experts on Small Arms: http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/55/a55323.pdf”.  In their eyes “Civilian use” = sporting firearms!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every fit and proper firearm licence holder has a responsibility to ensure that we all remain law abiding citizens by doing what legislation requires us to do. Failure to do so … … … … … well we will leave that to your imagination!

Remember COLFO is you, it is a New Zealand Home grown organization that was set up by shooters and collectors to lobby to help us all retain the privileges we currently have. We accept no funding from government, we rely on you the members and your organisations for funding. In this way we are independent of government, we fund from the people we represent (you and I).

We appreciate those who help fund the organisation to keep the fight going, the next few months are critical to us so please be prepared to play a supporting role.

1.  The rifle, a pump action .22RF, was described as a “high powered rifle” by the reporter. Typical media misinformation playing on the general public’s ignorance about firearms.