By James Olsen
Following the tragic loss of life by a terrorist in Christchurch Mosque shootings, the New Zealand Government rushed though, under urgency, an amendment to the Arms Act 1983 preventing the sale and possession of military style semi-automatic firearms along with a range of other measure.
A group of licenced firearms holders formed the Kiwi Party Inc to challenge the legality of that action. However, a High Court Judge strike-out their claims in relation to the legislation. They appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court, unanimously, rejected all of their arguments.
The Kiwi Party claimed that New Zealanders had a ‘constitutional right to bear arms’ which allowed them to have access to semi-automatic weapons. The Court of Appeal dismissed this entirely. The Court said that there is no constitutional right to bear arms in New Zealand and there never has been. They observed that only 3 counties in the world have some from of constitutional right to bear arms.
The Kiwi Party made a number of claims about the process in Parliament. However, no court can entertain such claims because it would breach the Parliamentary Privileges Act (which prevents the courts enquiring into matters relating to Parliament).
Finally, the Kiwi Party tried to challenge the Amendment Act itself. The Court of Appeal was critical of these claims and direct in its observation that they could not be sustained.
Ultimately, New Zealand is not like the United States. Firstly, there is no second amendment right; but, importantly, even if there were such a right, the courts in New Zealand cannot strike down legislation passed by Parliament. What Parliament says goes.