OPINION: Reforms needed on guns and spies

I applaud the Parliament for being willing to quickly take strong, decisive and near unanimous action to reform New Zealand’s gun laws in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Christchurch.

Fifty Kiwi Muslims died in a hail of gunfire at two mosques on March 15 in an unprecedented act of terrorism in this country.

Dozens more were injured and hundreds of relatives of the people killed or wounded will have been severely emotionally impacted by the gunman’s wicked actions.

Everyone in our country should be able to go about their lives free from the fear of gun violence.

And there is no place in society for the type of hatred or racism that allegedly motivated the killer.

The Government is doing the right thing by moving to ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines.

I see very few good reasons for private citizens to own such weapons.

Exemptions will be created that would include activities such as professional pest control, and for the NZ Police and Defence Force.

Parts that can be used to convert firearms into military-style semi-automatics will also be banned.

There is a big difference between a responsible gun owner having access to such firearms for the purposes of pest control and a mass murderer with evil in his heart.

I realise the swiftness of these changes won’t be welcomed by all, but members of the public will be able to have their say on this very important issue to a select committee as part of the legislative process.

These are good first steps to ensuring the sort of terrorism we witnessed in Christchurch just two weeks ago can never happen again.

The wider question of how intelligence agencies failed to detect this individual, and what more can be done to stop it happening in the future, must also be examined.

I support the decision for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be established for a methodical and detailed review to take place.

But whatever law changes and reviews are put in place, the biggest change to take place in New Zealand is already happening.

The love and compassion we all saw last week at mosques and Islamic centres around the nation is the type of New Zealand we need to see more of.

  • Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany

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