The Firearms Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand is urging firearm owners to make sure they obey the rules of firearm safety while maintaining or handling any rifle, shotgun, or airgun during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The council’s deputy chair Bill O’Leary says while the COVID-19 emergency is preventing hunters from going out during the peak hunting period, the roar, it does provide a good opportunity for maintenance.
“It is disappointing that hunting is postponed for the four weeks of the lockdown, but hunters should make the most of the chance to ensure their rifles and other firearms are in perfect working order,” O’Leary said.
“Give them a good clean, check that screws and sights are tight, secured, and in safe working condition,” he said.
O’Leary is also urging all firearm owners to comply with basic safety rules.
“Whether it is in the home or in the bush, the seven basic rules of safe firearms handling should be second nature to all firearm licence holders,” he said.
“Treat the rifle, shotgun, or airgun as loaded at all times, and make sure the barrel is always pointing in a safe direction. And, of course, make sure they are safely locked away when you have finished your maintenance schedule.”
O’Leary says firearm safety is stressed during the rigorous vetting and training process people have to go through to get a firearms licence. This process was introduced nearly 40 years ago in the 1983 Arms Act.
He says that safety focus is paying off with numbers of firearm accidents in the home falling.
“Fifty years ago, the commissioner of police reported a firearms accident in the home every month. Now, such incidents are very rare, even though there are many more firearm owners.
“We don’t want a return to those bad old days and want to remind all firearm owners to not let their guard down during the current health crisis when they are cleaning and maintaining their hunting equipment,” O’Leary said.
“We want everyone to be properly prepared to go and safely enjoy their hunting when the lockdown is lifted.”
The Firearm Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand’s members come from major hunting, shooting, and firearm organisations.
It provides advice to government agencies and other organisations on firearms safety-related matters as well as undertaking research to promote firearms safety.