DEMOCRACY UNDER FIRE ON FIREARMS LAW REFORM - COLFO
SUNDAY 17 NOVEMBER 2019
The Government supposedly wants to “hear from all New Zealanders” about firearms law reform – unless you happen to be a licenced firearms owner.
As part of its Fair and Reasonable campaign to counter rushed reforms in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) urged members to meet with their local Member of Parliament to outline their concerns.
But many local MPs were not prepared to meet with constituents to hear their point of view on what they believe are unfair and punitive sanctions against firearms owners who have done nothing wrong.
“More than 40% of Labour MPs approached flat-out refused to meet with people from their own electorates to listen to their points of view,” said COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“That’s a chilling response. It not only flies in the face of people’s right to speak frankly and fairly with their Parliamentary representatives but also contradicts the promise made by Police Minister Stuart Nash that the Government wanted to ‘hear from all New Zealanders…whether they use firearms or not’.
“The only conclusion we can draw is that this Government will only listen people who already agree with them. That’s neither fair, nor democratic.”
Labour’s coalition partner in Government, NZ First, fared no better on consultation, with 40% of constituent meeting requests turned down.
“National has been a little more open and receptive to our concerns but we’ve still had some MPs outright refuse constituents’ genuine efforts to talk to them openly and honestly,” said McKee.
“This isn’t how Kiwis expect democracy to work. We don’t expect everyone to necessarily agree with our points of view, but we do have a right to raise them with our elected representatives.
“Our position is that firearms law reform can be made to keep Kiwis safe, but what the Government’s proposing won’t achieve that aim in any way. If the Government really is serious about getting effective and lasting reform to improve public safety, they’ll work with the firearms community, rather than against it, and take the time to get things right.”