New Christchurch Gun City store's location a mental health risk - board member

The AM Show 18/07/2019

A local board member in Christchurch says the location of a new Gun City megastore will put residents' mental health at risk.

Just four months on from the March massacre in which 51 of the city's residents lost their lives, the weapons retailer is opening a new outlet on Main South Rd in the suburb of Sockburn.

The alleged gunman in the attacks bought four of his guns from Gun City.

Catherine Chu, who represents the Riccarton ward, told The AM Show on Thursday the location is not ideal.

"I certainly don't think it helps where there is a big sign 'Gun City'... right opposite a residential area, and right on one of the busiest roads in Christchurch - and it's also on the way into Christchurch.

It doesn't help with the mental issues that we've got currently.

Gun City owner David Tipple told Newshub he's only had positive feedback about the new store, which has been in the planning since well before the terror attack.

"We began this process two-and-a-half years ago. We've had this building built for us specifically."

The store received consent in January. Chu said Gun City has done everything by the book, and the spot is zoned for commercial use, despite its proximity to homes.

"There aren't any regulations in council at this stage to enforce or regulate these sorts of activities," she said, meaning there was no requirement for Gun City to notify residents of the store's opening next month.

Tipple said the store's opening has been low-key thanks to media outlets refusing to accept the store's adverts. He also said he had no obligation to tell locals.

"How do I know who to do the letterbox drop to? Do I do it within 100m? Five thousand metres? That's a bit ridiculous."

Christchurch has been through a lot in recent years. Police last year said they were dealing with a "scary" increase in suicide attempts in the wake of the earthquakes, and studies have found kids are showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"My personal view though is Christchurch has gone through so much over the last few years you know, and Canterbury has got a real mental health issue," said Chu. "If we look at the past few years we've had the Christchurch earthquakes, we've had the Kaikoura earthquakes, we've had the Port Hills fire and we've also had the March 15 attacks. In the last year on average a day, 11 attempted suicides. That's almost up 60 percent...

"The issue that we have though is the experience and what Christchurch has gone through. So I think residents would have appreciated some form of communication... that Gun City was to be located here."

Catherine Chu. Photo credit: The AM Show

Feedback sent into The AM Show backed up Chu's view, with one person calling it "appalling" and another saying they'd prefer the store was "a long way away from any residential areas".

Tipple said it's "so sad" people are blaming guns for the massacre. Chu said there was "no doubt 99 percent of their customers would be law-abiding, responsible citizens of New Zealand".

The store's location is in the same suburb the police's first gun buyback event was held last weekend, taking hundreds of now-illegal weapons off the streets.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Dan Satherley