Man who labelled Jacinda Ardern a 'tyrant' speaks at gun reform select committee

The man who labelled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a "tyrant" has submitted to the select committee on the Government's gun law reforms.

Mike Loder, a sporting gun enthusiast, recently called Ardern a "tyrant" in a blog post over her move to swiftly ban military-style semi-automatic weapons (MSSAs), thereby "killing sport shooting".

Speaking to the Finance Expenditure Select Committee on Thursday by phoning in, Loder stood by his comments about Ardern, and made it clear he did not support the gun law reforms.

"When I called the Prime Minister a tyrant... tyrants represent the people; they don't shove their opinions down their throats."

Chair of the select committee, Labour MP Michael Wood, said Loder's viewpoint represented the "ugly face of the anti-reform movement in New Zealand".

Loder said hunters "do not support" the Government's gun reforms - despite Fish & Game, a collection of 12 regional Fish & Game Councils, saying most hunters back the Government's approach.

Committee member National MP Judith Collins asked Loder if he was being reasonable about the reforms, to which he replied: "I'm fact-based, I research what works and what doesn't, and I behave accordingly."

Judith Collins at the select committee.
Judith Collins at the select committee. Photo credit: Newshub

Martin Taylor, chief executive of New Zealand Fish and Game, said while he supported the Arms Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament on Tuesday, he raised concerns about the buyback scheme and length of the amnesty period (which ends September 30).

He said the Government needed to be clear in how it communicated any changes to the firearms community, and that Parliament "has a role to inform" everyone about specific changes being made to the law.

He said military-style semi-automatic weapons - which have been banned alongside assault rifles in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch shooting - "should never have been allowed in the first place" in New Zealand.

Joe Green, from the Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa, said legislation needed to be based on "solid research rather than pious hopes" and said police hadn't been given enough scope to handle firearms licencing in New Zealand.

Green said another two weeks "should have allowed for a reasonable process" to allow for more people to have a say at the select committee - a position ACT Party leader David Seymour took this week.

"We all feel the need to do something," Green said, but added the Government should recognise that atrocities could still happen with a single-use shotgun - pointing to New Zealand's last major shooting, the Aramoana massacre, among others. 

Tim Ashton, who said he worked as a police officer for 18 years and in the anti-terrorist squad, said he supported the Government's gun law reforms, and believed the penalties for storing illegal firearms should be increased.

"I'm simply doing this because I honestly believe we need to make New Zealand a safer place to live in," he told the select committee.

He also implored the Government to introduce a gun register because "we have no idea how many [guns] are sold".

He said he has spent years lobbying against Category A (the standard firearms licence) and Category E (which allow the use of MSSAs) licences in New Zealand. 

"It will be a process, and it will be a cost, but... it's worth it."

Ben Allen from Airsoft NZ.
Ben Allen from Airsoft NZ. Photo credit: Newshub

In another submission, Ben Allen from Airsoft NZ, raised concerns about the new gun legislation preventing plastic weapons used in the sport being flagged by Customs in New Zealand over suspicion they could be modified.

He said members of the 24 clubs across New Zealand have in the past been "unintentionally caught up" because the plastic guns bear a similar appearance to real firearms.

He said that the weapons could not be modified. 

Allen called for exemptions in the prohibited parts clause of the legislation that would make it clear that airsoft guns are not dangerous.