The 2020 duck hunting season recently was a topic of dispute when the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) released a statement saying they would plan court action over the recent ammunition ban by the Government.
COLFO said that on 1 October, a range of ammunition was banned by the Government and legal advice provided to them was that a vague description in the ban of steel ammunition meant shotgun cartridges used by duck shooters may be prohibited.
“It’s a ridiculous situation that seemingly criminalises thousands of unwitting duck shooters,” COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee said.
“Most duck shooters have converted to steel shot from lead, which was banned to protect waterways and wetlands from lead pollution. The ammunition they are using is now technically illegal under the new law because steel projectiles enable ‘better penetration’.”
Act Party released a statement as well claiming that New Zealand Government had cancelled duck hunting season.
“The Government has thrown a huge spanner in the works for the 2020 duck shooting season, showing that no Kiwi sport or other legitimate activities that use firearms is safe,” Act Party leader David Seymour said.
He added that “thousands of law-abiding Kiwis” who purchase a duck shooting license every year had “effectively been criminalised” because of the recent prohibition of steel shot ammunition.
Fish and Game responded by saying the information spread by COLFO and picked up by ACT Party was incorrect and their interpretation of the act is “that steel shotgun ammunition is not classified as prohibited ammunition by the Arms (Prohibited Ammunition) Order 2019.
“The ammunition that is referred to is rifle ammunition with a steel core designed to defeat body armour, not steel shotgun ammunition.”
The Police also clarified that cartridges filled with steel or lead shot are not prohibited and may still be used under the Arms Order 2019 as shotgun cartridges are specifically excluded from the prohibition order. They added that “enhanced penetrating ammunition with a steel or tungsten carbide penetrator is prohibited as it penetrates body armour and helmets and has no legitimate civilian use. Duck shooting cartridges do not fall within this definition.”
Following the clarification, COLFO claimed a victory for duck shooters.
“The police acknowledged, after five days of denial, that the Ministerial Order our lawyers warned would ban steel shot ammunition would be ‘clarified’ (i.e. changed) to specifically exclude shotgun ammunition,” COLFO said in a statement released on 17 October.
“Of course, no one seriously thought the government intended to ban shotgun cartridges, but that was the result of how poorly they have managed this whole process and how sloppy they had been in drafting the law.”
COLFO added that they would fight in Parliament against the Arms Bill and “its injustice, unintended effects, and errors” stating that their court challenge did not “rest solely on the shotgun cartridges. The types of banned ammunition and the failure to compensate are blatantly unfair.”