David Seymour, Epsom electorate MP, and leader of ACT New Zealand has admitted his failure to force the Government’s gun law reforms into urgency tering it as “embarrassing”.
The ACT Party leader told Newshub on Tuesday he intended to vote against the Government’s motion to extend sitting hours so it could pass new gun legislation quickly.
While that would have forced the Government to invoke the use of urgency, it didn’t come to that as Seymour failed to appear in the House in time to object to the motion – instead he was outside talking to media.
On Wednesday, Seymour admitted it wasn’t a good look.
“It is a bit embarrassing obviously, but when the dust settles, the Government had to do this in the minute I was talking to some journalists because if they had waited until I was there, I would have objected,” he told The AM Show.
Written submissions opened for the proposed changes, which would ban military-style, semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines, on Tuesday afternoon and will run until Thursday.
Newshub Political reporter Jenna Lynch said it was hard to see how the Government could have responded to the Christchurch attacks with gun law reforms any quicker – something most Kiwis will be interested in.
“The whole of New Zealand is looking at our gun laws and thinking why were these loopholes there?”
But Seymour said that shows exactly why a slower, thorough process was needed to create effective laws.
“I absolutely think gun laws need to change, they need to be more restricted. It is not sustainable that such a deranged individual can get his hands on such lethal weapons with almost nobody knowing about it,” he said.
“If we want to fix this, then I am not sure that putting through laws hastily drafted in nine days with no public consultation of any seriousness, with very little public scrutiny, is the right way to do it.
“Gun laws are fiendishly complex, and what we are already discovering from the select committee process, such as it is, is that the way we got here was bad gun law with a whole lot of loopholes that people are able to take advantage of.”
Lynch attended the committee on Tuesday night and said a presentation from police on how quickly a normal weapon could be modified into a semi-automatic was “chilling”.
“Watching how quickly you change one of these guns into something with 60 rounds of ammunition. It was terrifying,” she told The AM Show.
“How quickly you can make a normal weapon into such a deadly weapon and just fire off so many bullets in such a small space of time.”
She described Seymour’s failure as an “own goal”, but he said it is the first time he has missed anything.
“I think when people get over the entertainment of it, there is a principle at stake here, that there are 120 MPs in Parliament, and only one of them is saying gun laws are important and they need to be done properly.
“It should be about public safety not political theatre, and I actually think that is an important place to stand.”