'Taking away rights': Muslims, gun owners at odds in submissions on gun laws

There was a stark contrast in submissions to the select committee on gun reform, with some calling for tougher laws while others sought the opposite. 

President of the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand, Dr Mustafa Farouk, was one of 20 submitters to speak on gun law at the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on Thursday. 

Dr Farouk said he would like to see the Government's crackdown on military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) weapons and assault rifles go further, so that the March 15 Christchurch terror attack could never be repeated. 

He also questioned why anybody should need to own an MSSA when police officers in New Zealand don't carry them. 

"If I can trust our police officers without any arms at all to protect me, why should anyone have anything more than that? It's as simple as that for me," he told the select committee. 

Dr Farouk said the Islamic community in New Zealand would be "deeply disappointed" if the gun legislation - introduced to Parliament on Tuesday - didn't become law by the end of next week, as is expected. 

He reflected on a man he knows who lost a loved one in the March 15 shooting, telling the select committee his feelings about New Zealand "heightened" because of the way he saw New Zealanders respond.

Gun City owner David Tipple.
Gun City owner David Tipple. Photo credit: Facebook

But Dr Farouk's submission was in stark contrast to the owner of Gun City, David Tipple, who criticised the Government for rushing through the gun reform legislation which he said caused "division". 

"If you pass this law in its present form, you will be helping him win," he told the select committee, alluding to the alleged gunman, a 28-year-old Australian national.

When asked how he would respond to the Muslim community who don't feel safe, Tipple said: "Nobody will ever be completely safe from a lone madman who is determined to cause murder."

He added: "If this was just about killing people, he said he could have killed a lot more, but this wasn't about killing people - this was about dividing people."

He criticised the Government for "taking away rights that don't need to be taken" and for promising to "pay some of us but not all of us an unknown value at an unknown time," referring to the gun buyback scheme. 

"What does the supplier do with returned guns? It's impossible for him to un-manufacture it. And in most cases, it won't be possible to export the gun or part. Bad law causes uncertainty and injustice and division."

Tipple revealed to committee member National MP Judith Collins that he had sold "dozens" of firearms similar to those used by the alleged gunman since the March 15 shooting. 

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

He also said large capacity magazines should always have been regulated, and that now he can "see they should have" been.

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the ban on MSSAs and assault rifles on March 21, she said the alleged gunman used two assault rifles purchased legally on an A Category gun licence - the standard one held by gun owners in New Zealand.

But he illegally enhanced them using 30-plus-round magazines, essentially turning them into MSSAs - which has raised red flags. 

"This person turned his A Category semi-automatic into an E Category by illegally fitting the large magazine," Tipple said, adding that he was not sure where the alleged shooter would have purchased it from. 

Tipple has said his company sold the alleged gunman four A Category firearms and ammunition between November 2017 and March 2018, but said they detected nothing extraordinary about the license holder.