CONCERNS have been raised in Southland over the Government’s “rushed” decision to implement restrictions on firearms and what impact it will have on the local gun industry.
Some of those involved in the gun business in Invercargill have argued the Government needed to consult with more people in the industry before making the decision to ban military style semi-automatic firearms.
Custom Guns owner Greg Hudson, who has run his gun retail store in Invercargill for four years, said it was a feel-good legislation created to make people feel safe.
“The Government were deliberately avoiding the industry for consultation.
“There was a substantial amount of people excluded and the people you need to worry about the least are the ones suffering from the restrictions.”
Mr Hudson said some gun owners were “living in fear” over what the Government’s proposed gun buyback scheme would mean for them, with the details yet to be confirmed.
He said he was “fielding many questions every day” from customers who were unsure if their firearms would, or could be made to comply with the new legislation.
“There’s a lot of upset people who, having done nothing wrong, have got themselves into a position where they’re now essentially criminals being in possession of something that never committed a crime.”
Customers had been reluctant to spend any money due to the uncertainty, but he was not worried about the future of his business.
“The majority of my business will change from servicing firearms which are now prohibited, to selling those which are legal, so I don’t see any adverse effects in the long-term. Potentially, if firearms are allowed to be modified [to meet new legal requirements], it would be a substantial increase in business.”
Status Gun owner Nelson Collie, who manufactures and modifies firearms, said the legislation was drafted “too rapidly” and changes should have been made over time.
“Legislation generated in hysteria will generate more faults and problems. It’s frightening and a disillusion of democratic rights.”
Mr Collie said the most pressing issue was that nobody knew what was going to happen because there was “no finite bottom-line to anything”.
H&J Smith Outdoor World Gun City chief executive John Green said he understood the Government had no option but to respond quickly, but agreed more time for consultation could have prevented more firearms being put into the community.
Mr Green said 99% of the company’s customers would be unaffected by the new regulations.
“I think the new regulations may frustrate some people using those guns [military style semi-automatic], sort of as amateurs, but I would suggest the people working in that area [of pest control] professionally will arrive at a suitable solution.”
Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesman Miles Anderson agreed any legislation rushed in that fashion would be poorly executed.
“Very few people got the opportunity to put through oral submissions. We aren’t opposed to the firearm ban because the old legislation didn’t work, but it would’ve been sensible to wait for the Royal Commission to publish their findings.”
Mr Anderson had also received a number of queries but could not answer them with the details of the gun buyback scheme yet to be confirmed.
“It’s very hard to tell what the effects will be on business, I don’t believe there will be many because the serious hunter in the main was not using these particular firearms. They’re not critical for hunting activities.”
He said a lot of farmers would be concerned their firearms would be rendered illegal.
“We’re waiting on proper identification of the firearms that are banned. What is permissible and what isn’t, that’s going to take a lot of good communication.”