Gun club blames ineffective new laws on Palmerston North police station gun theft

The Palmerston North Gun Club says the recent theft of guns from a police station is the result of the Government's new gun laws.

On Sunday police recovered eight of the stolen firearms in Palmerston North, including one weapon that is now illegal as a result of the Government's new semi-automatics ban.

Of the three firearms still missing, two are older guns and one is a BB gun. These weapons were not covered under the new legislation, but police say they were either awaiting destruction or being held as exhibits.

Club secretary Chris Beattie is praising the police's swift action, but says it's a huge eye-opener for the Government.

"I think this is the result of something that was rushed through without due consideration. They just didn't have time to think through all the consequences and all the issues likely to occur," Beattie told Newshub.

"Police have ended up with a whole lot of guns coming in without the resources to deal with it. It's easy to blame the police, but in my mind the Labour Government has rushed this law through."

The Arms Amendment Bill was fast-tracked through Parliament and bans military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, but the select committee recommended semi-automatic firearms be allowed for pest control on farms under some circumstances.

The Government announced a buyback scheme to compensate gun owners for their now-illegal firearms. The original estimate for the cost of the buyback was $100 to $200 million - but that's just an estimate as there is no official number of firearms in New Zealand.

The Government is pledging to pay for parts, magazines and ammunition, as well as the banned firearms they're used with.

All parties agreed to the Bill, with the exception of ACT. However Beattie says the new law was not researched enough.

"I'm not saying the laws didn't need to be changed but the question begs itself, doesn't it? Did they give due consideration to the consequences of rushing something through?"

Acting Central District Commander Insp Sarah Stewart says finding the weapons is still a high priority for local police.

"The investigation team has worked tirelessly throughout the weekend and they will continue to do so."

She urges anyone with information about the stolen firearms to contact Palmerston North police on 0800 351 3600 or anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thirty-eight-year-old Alan James Harris was arrested on Saturday and charged with burglary. He's been remanded in custody until May 21.


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