Tougher gun control recommendations questioned

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By Kaysha Brownlie

Dave Hern has been in the hunting and fishing industry for about 40 years.

He's been involved with firearms even longer, and witnessed attitudes toward firearms - and their owners - change.

Owner of Waipukurau's Fishing and Shooting Outfitters Ltd Mr Hern recalls earlier times, saying: "In the old days we could walk down the street with our firearm and into the shop get it repaired, nobody batted an eyelid, if I walked down the Mainstreet of town today with a rifle in my hand... it wouldn't take long for someone to be ringing 111 to say there's a man walking down the street with a gun."

A Government Law and Order Committee has proposed tighter firearm controls to target gangs and knuckle down on illegal firearm possession.

Recommended changes to rules around ammunition, firearms storage, and dealers, like Mr Hern in Waipukurau, have left the firearms community feeling targeted.

"They're trying to fix something that hardly exists, when someone runs into a crowd of people with cars do we say oh let's lock up all the cars - no we don't," Mr Hern says.

The report was released mid-roar - while many hunters are out bush - they'll return to the news, that as owners of military-style semi-automatics, they could be facing more restrictions.

But Committee member Stuart Nash says people need to remember these are merely recommendations.

Continued below.

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Labour MP for Napier, and a Committee member, Stuart Nash, says these are recommendations, not laws, and "they are not precursors to laws".

"It's to keep the cowboys out of the game and I think you'll find that a lot of the legitimate gun owners will go, well you know, we are doing things by the rules, by the book, if this keeps the cowboys out of the game then that's got to be good for our business."

The report highlights the low percentage of crime involving firearms at just 1.4 per cent of all violent crime.

Mr Hern was involved in discussions around firearm legislation changes back in the 80s, he claims New Zealand, currently, has the best firearm legislation to date.

"What they're proposing isn't going to make much difference to the criminal element at all."

The inquiry was conducted after the shooting of four police officers in Kawerau last year - and the confiscation of 14 military-style guns found stashed in a ceiling.

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