Comprehensive firearm reforms are critical to ensuring that terror attacks like the one in Christchurch that claimed 50 lives can never happen again, Christchurch City Council says.
This week Mayor Lianne Dalziel travelled to Parliament to address the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee who are considering public submissions on the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill.
The Bill, introduced in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, seeks to ban all semi-automatic weapons with the exception of some that are legitimately used for pest control.
Mayor Dalziel reminded MPs that 27 years ago she had sat where they were sitting, listening to submissions on proposed gun reform laws in the wake of the Aramoana massacre in which 13 people were killed.
The Mayor indicated too much time was allowed then for the legislation to be watered down; she told the select committee they could not let that happen again.
“This law change must happen without delay. Give no time to those who seek to defend the indefensible. The ban will save lives,’’ she said.
“This is what Australia did in the wake of Port Arthur. The then Prime Minister, John Howard, regarded this as his finest achievement in his entire political career. And look what it has meant for Australia – the terrorist could not have amassed these weapons in his own country; he could not have committed this atrocity there.
“He could here. He said he came here because it was a safe country – what he didn’t say was ‘safe for him to perpetrate this crime’,’’ the Mayor said.
The Mayor told the committee that among the many messages of support for Christchurch that she had received since the terrorist attack was one from the student body at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Florida, where 17 students were gunned down last year.
The students, some of whom have recently visited Christchurch, expressed their admiration for the quick action in New Zealand to limit access to semi-automatic weapons.
“The legislation introduced to ban military style semi-automatic and assault rifles is an outstanding solution to the obvious problem,’’ the students said in their message to the Mayor.
In its written submission the Council noted the Government intended to introduce further amendments to firearms legislation and that was likely to include consideration of a national register of firearms and the vetting process for those applying to obtain a gun licence.
It urged the Government to give immediate attention to these further reforms.
“Comprehensive firearms reforms are critical to ensuring similar attacks do not and cannot happen again,’’ the Council’s submission said.