Simon Bridges' description of gun buyback as 'fiasco' angers Police Association

The Police Association is hitting back at National leader Simon Bridges after he described the Government's gun buyback scheme as a "fiasco". 

Chris Cahill, president of the organisation, independent of the police, said contrary to the "fiasco" description, police have noted firearms owners' reactions to the process as "outstanding" and "really engaged".

"People who say the buyback is not working have either not been to a buyback, or have a vested interest in criticising the process," Cahill said on Wednesday. 

"Some who claim there are problems are the very people encouraging firearms owners to hold off handing in their guns, or soliciting funds to pay for a legal challenge to the scheme.

"They are not helping the process at all."

Cahill's comments followed Bridges' revelation on Wednesday that it was "unlikely" National will support the Government's second tranche of gun law reforms. 

"There's no politics. It's simply a question of a next series of laws that seem to be aimed at good, law abiding people rather than criminals, the gangs and extremists," Bridges said.

He was referring to leaked legislation of the second tranche of proposed gun laws, which National said targeted law-abiding firearms and gun clubs rather than gangs and criminals.  

National's police spokesperson Brett Hudson said gun clubs would be incorporated into societies that are certified by a commissioner every five years, lumping them with more costs. 

National leader Simon Bridges said it's unlikely his party will support the second tranche of gun law reforms.
National leader Simon Bridges said it's unlikely his party will support the second tranche of gun law reforms. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Doctors would also be required to notify police if they're concerned about a firearms owner, and National fears it would drive mental health issues underground discouraging gun owners from seeing their doctor. 

"If the Government changes the law so that they get tough on the criminals, the gangs and the extremists, then we'll consider supporting it," Bridges said.  

"But at the moment, it looks very much about getting at law abiding New Zealanders and not being tough on crime."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was "disappointed" to hear that Bridges was considering not supporting the second tranche of reforms, some details of which were announced last month

"I had hoped that we would have a joining together of the Parliament again," Ardern said on Wednesday. 

"This is about safety. When the police are coming out strongly saying this is exactly what we need to make New Zealand safer, I'd like to think the vast majority of New Zealanders - including law-abiding gun owners - would agree with that."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she's disappointed National's considering not supporting the next tranche of gun law reforms.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she's disappointed National's considering not supporting the next tranche of gun law reforms. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

National supported the first tranche of gun law changes put forward by the Government following the March 15 Christchurch terror attack. 

Bridges said he wants the Government to support National's proposed Firearms Prohibition Orders which would ensure gang members cannot hold a firearms licence. 

ACT leader David Seymour is praising National for "finally waking up on gun reform", and he said it was "correct" to label the gun buyback a "fiasco".

He said it "helped to create a situation in which only a tiny fraction of firearms are being handed in with many more potentially forming a black market". 

Bridges had a similar argument, pointing to the 15,000 figure of firearms handed in to police so far. 

"There are still hundreds of thousands out there and they're just not going to come in, because the Government has stuffed it up."

Cahill has appealed to National to reconsider calling the buyback a "fiasco". 

"I hope that all politicians, including National Party politicians, see the suite of firearms reforms as a once in a generation chance to rid our communities of assault weapons."

Gun Control NZ co-founder Hera Cook said National seems to have "swallowed the gun lobby line" that the buyback is a "fiasco". 

The second tranche of legislation will include a gun register, and Cook said that's too important for National to ignore. 

Newshub.

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