New Zealand: Gun owners protest over tightening of laws

WION Web Team Melbourne, Australia Nov 30, 2019, 11.52 AM(IST) Edited By: Abhilash Mahajan

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has earned global praise for her work of controlling gun use, however, domestically, she is facing a lot of pressure.

Nearly 50 firearm owners protested against the tightening of gun laws in the wake of mosque shootings in Christchurch this year that killed 51 worshippers.

As per media reports, the gun owners staged a protest at a gun buy-back event on Saturday in Auckland, where they held placards with slogans including "This bill hurts ordinary Kiwis!" and "Be safe: reject arms bill". 

The government is seeking to pass legislation that intends stricter vetting of firearm owners and creating a gun register, among other changes. In April, the Parliament passed almost unanimously laws that will restrict the use and circulation of most of the semi-automatic guns. 

The legislation also extends the jail term for supplying firearms to an unlicensed person from three months to two years, as well as as tightening gun importation and sales. 

Police are given the power to decide whether someone is "fit and proper" to hold a license, with excluding anyone promoting extrmism, convicted of violent crime or dealing with mental health challenges including an attempt to suicide. 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has earned global praise for her work of controlling gun use, however, domestically, she is facing a lot of pressure, as the elections are approaching, from the federal opposition National Party, gun lobby groups and ordinary citizens over the legislation introduced in September. 

Victoria O'Brien, a national shooting champion, said that destroying guns being bought back and destroyed had cultural significance, according to a New Zealand website. 

"There is a desecration of New Zealand history going on, we're talking World War I, World War II guns," O'Brien said.

"We want them to stop and actually target the illegal possession of firearms," she said, asking the government to put reforms to hold. 

(with inputs from Reuters and AFP)