Golriz Ghahraman: Gun law changes just the beginning

Opinion 12/04/2019
Source: Getty

By Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party MP

Following the Christchurch terrorist attack at a mosque, our country has been in reflection of what needs to change to ensure we never see a repeat.

We owe it to the victims to do some soul searching, and to be brave in making these changes.

The last two weeks in Parliament have seen gun law change being unanimously supported by everyone in Parliament. New Zealand is banning weapons that have no place in a civil society, guns that maximise harm and allow for mass crimes.

Fixing our gun laws is just the beginning, but it is an urgent and essential first step, one that was tragically overlooked, though repeatedly recommended before now.

It is the beginning of the change needed to making New Zealand a place where we all feel safe and truly at home.

The next steps must involve looking at the way our community spaces are currently operating. I know our current hate speech laws aren’t working. We have seen recently how New Zealand aspires to be an inclusive society and to protect those values we must protect the rights of our minority communities from hateful rhetoric, especially online. The white supremacist fringes of society are threatening to overwhelm our community standards, so we need to ensure clarity on what we will accept.

We need to close the gap in our Human Rights Act to make sure everyone is safe against abusive communication. 

Religious groups such as Muslims and Jews are routinely the victim of hate speech but laws that protect specific individuals do not extend to groups so there is very little that can currently be done. We would all benefit from this change - religious groups, people with a disability, and people of all genders.

I look forward to working with the Justice Minister Andrew Little on making these important changes.

By Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party MP