Christchurch terror attack: Top criminal lawyer blames politicians' inaction for weak gun laws

A top criminal lawyer says politics has been in the way of changing New Zealand's weak gun laws.

In the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised gun laws will change with a detailed proposal of the reform expected in the coming week.

There have been several attempts to reform gun laws over the last two decades, without any substantial progress - something Ardern has promised will happen.

"There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017. Now is the time for change," she said on Saturday.

Belinda Sellars QC told The AM Show on Tuesday that politics has been in the way of key changes.

"Certainly there have been attempts through the years, three in recent times, to change the law and it has been looked at very carefully, but at the end of the day it's not made it through the final hoop, which has been a result of what has been happening in Parliament," she said.

Sellars said New Zealand's laws are relatively weak to many other countries.

"A quick review [of how New Zealand's gun laws compare to the rest of the world] would tend to show that it is much weaker in many ways, it's looser, we register the gun owners rather than the gun themselves which means we have no way of knowing where a particular gun is at a different time.

"Even our registration of owners is 10 years, where a lot of places is five."

She said the New Zealand Bar Association has asked barristers to consider these key issues, but remember the need for proper process.

"From the legal perspective, what we are asking, is that, yes everybody recognises there needs to be some change, but we need to have the proper process."

Sellars also criticised social media platforms like Facebook for not having proper procedures in place to limit the spread of objectionable material. While it may be difficult to force them to change, it was necessary.

"Obviously, something is not working at the moment. We have a situation that this could be livestreamed and left on, and then shared, and shared, and shared. It is absolutely ridiculous."


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