Christchurch terror attack: MPs accept petition calling for ban on semi-automatic weapons

MPs from both sides of the House have accepted petitions calling for a ban on semi-automatic weapons and tougher rules on firearms advertising. 

Labour MP Grant Robertson, National MP Chris Bishop and Green Party co-leader James Shaw accepted the petitions on Thursday on the steps of Parliament in Wellington.

The first combined petition was brought by Wellington man Nik Green and industrial designer Brad Knewstubb, who grew up in Christchurch. The petition on regulating firearms advertising was brought by Wellington woman Hannah Clarke. 

James Shaw, Grant Robertson and Chris Bishop holding the petitions they were given.
James Shaw, Grant Robertson and Chris Bishop holding the petitions they were given. Photo credit: Newshub

"I understand that there's certain applications where semi-automatic weapons would be required - pest control, [Department of Conservation] would need them - but I don't see any reason for the general public [to have them]," Knewstubb told Newshub. 

"It would be amazing to have a tragedy of this magnitude and then respond to it so quickly that we could change the law, or have an idea of how the law is going to change, within a week."

Knewstubb's petition has so far gathered more than 32,000 signatures. Meanwhile Green's petition calling on Parliament to "immediately take steps to legislate against the sale and possession of all semi-automatic weapons for private use" has been signed more than 38,000 times. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday morning there would be changes to New Zealand's gun laws after the Christchurch terrorist attack, when 50 people were killed by a gunman wielding legally obtained semi-automatic weapons. 

Bishop said it was important to represent the National Party and accept the petitions, and it was the "right thing" for Ardern to say gun laws would change in New Zealand in light of the attacks. 

Grant Robertson accepting the petition from Brad Knewstubb.
Grant Robertson accepting the petition from Brad Knewstubb. Photo credit: Newshub

"We will work with the Government in a bipartisan way to make sure that happens," he said on Thursday. 

Shaw said was "incredibly important at a time like this to hear New Zealanders as we deal with this terrorism. There is no reason to have these sorts of weapons in New Zealand."

He said the Green Party has been calling "for many years" to reform New Zealand's gun laws, and he's pleased to finally see action being taken. 

James Shaw.
James Shaw. Photo credit: Newshub

Robertson said it's the Government's responsibility to keep New Zealanders by prioritising gun control in the wake of the attacks. 

On Tuesday he said the Government is considering a buyback scheme. The Government could then examine whether it wants to take the gun buyback to beyond semi-automatics. 

Asked if the Government's reforms should extend to rifles that don't require a license, such as slug guns, if they can be modified to be as strong as rifles that you do require a licence for, Knewstubb said any semi-automatic "should be illegal". 

"The guy who charged the terrorist and got shot and killed, he would have saved dozens of lives if that [shooter] didn't have a semi-automatic weapon because he would have taken one shot and would have had to reload. 

"It was the weapon that led to the magnitude of this tragedy."