Masterton farmer John Hart receives barrage of hate after handing in semi-automatic rifle

Masterton farmer John Hart receives barrage of hate after handing in semi-automatic rifle
Photo credit: File.

A Masterton farmer penned an opinion piece for the Washington Post after receiving a barrage of hate from Americans for handing in his semi-automatic rifle in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.

John Hart tweeted on March 18, three days after the terror attack, saying he would be handing in his semi-automatic weapon, which he bought for pest-control reasons.

"Until today I was one of the New Zealanders who owned a semi-automatic rifle. On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn't outweigh the risk of misuse," he explained.

On Tuesday he said on Twitter that his email address had been posted on an American gun blog, urging people to send him 'feedback' about his stance.

He also said he received multiple messages from "new American Facebook friends" calling him a "cuck", and joked it must be "a traditional [American] greeting".

In a Washington Post piece, Hart said he thought the "American idea - that it's important to have the ability to kill someone on a whim - is just bizarre."

He said he bought his semi-automatic because it would be more convenient for stock management and pest control on his farm.

"Many farms sit next to forests where wild goats and pigs breed... If I spotted a mob of goats, I could drop two or three of them before they ran away."

He said he always considered his weapon as a tool, but "everything changed once I saw how devastating it can be in the wrong hands".

Hart said when he weighed its potential for harm against its convenience, "the choice was obvious. I didn't need an assault weapon".

He handed his gun in before Jacinda Ardern announced the Government would be banning military-style semi-automatics on March 21.

"I went in [to a police station], toting my rifle and its magazine in a bag. The errand was easy... I confirmed the gun would be destroyed and then signed my name.

"I felt relief come over me. I had been the gun's sole owner since it was made, and I knew it had never hurt a human being. Now it never would."