ACT leader David Seymour will force Government into urgency to pass gun laws

ACT leader David Seymour will force Government into urgency to pass gun laws
Photo credit: Newshub

Update: David Seymour failed to force Government into urgency because he was late to Parliament. Read more here

ACT Party leader David Seymour will oppose the Government's gun law reforms and force it into urgency to pass the legislation.

He has indicated to Newshub he will vote against extended sitting hours, forcing the Government into urgency.

Seymour believes the Government is acting too hastily on the proposed gun reforms, when it has "already effectively put a moratorium on semi-automatic weapons for the next year through its regulations".

Even if Seymour opposes an application for extended sitting hours, the Government - which has support from the National Party - will pass the legislation through urgency.

How does that work?

The Government planned to put forward a motion that would allow the House to debate the new law for however long it took to pass the reforms quickly. Therefore the Bill could pass without having to invoke the use of 'urgency'.

But that would require support from all parties in the House: Labour, National, New Zealand First, the Greens and ACT. So without Seymour's support, the Government will be forced to pass the law using urgency.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last month a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. And on Monday Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said legislation had been introduced.

The Arms Amendment Bill will have its first reading on Tuesday, and be referred to a Select Committee for swift public submissions. It is intended to come into force next Friday.

"I understand that many people will be angry at me objecting, even people who have been long-time supporters," Seymour said.

"But sometimes, when you have the privilege of sitting in Parliament, you must use that to stand up for the institution and the role of Parliament is to be heard and to hold the Government to account.

"I will not allow our Parliament to be steam-rolled into making New Zealand a de facto dictatorship for nine days when there is no proper scrutiny of laws being made."

Despite an extensive Select Committee inquiry into gun ownership last year, Seymour said the Select Committee did not propose an actual law, which is what the Government is doing now.

"What the Government is proposing is a new law, and as with every other new law that we produce, it should be subject to public input and Parliamentary scrutiny," he said.

"I absolutely think that there will be changes to our gun laws, I think there will be much greater restrictions, and possibly bans on military-style semi-automatic weapons - but the question is: how do you do it?

"We don't want to do it in a way that alienates law-abiding gun owners who we actually need as allies in the fight to control guns."

Seymour strongly opposed the Government's proposed gun law reforms last month. He criticised the Prime Minister for proposing the reforms even though a Bill hadn't been drafted.

"By forcing gun law reforms through in three weeks, the Government will ensure there is no real opportunity for New Zealanders to have their voices heard on the proposals. It also risks producing a law that is ineffective," he said at the time.

"It's deeply disappointing that the Government is responding to the Christchurch terrorist attacks by abandoning proper democratic process."

He added: "It is important that we maintain our tradition of sober, robust law-making at all times, but especially now."