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Firearms & public health

Ngā pū me te hauora ā-iwi

Wednesday 14 February 2018 - Wellington

Firearms policy is often hotly-contested. How can we find common ground? International and local speakers will discuss the public policy and other aspects of firearms in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and our region.

Owning firearms is common in New Zealand: estimates range from one to two million firearms in our population of 4.8 million. Firearm safety is an issue in public health because of gun-shot deaths and injuries and other health effects; some groups are more vulnerable than others. Numerous community and business groups and government agencies, such as the Police, have an interest in the importation, sale, use and safety of firearms. The diversity of the groups can make it challenging to find common ground. How are current firearms policies working and how might likely future directions affect health, safety and well-being? A revitalised public discussion about firearms is needed; this symposium is a timely contribution.

Topics covered  

The firearms scene in New Zealand, injury prevention and firearms safety training, issues of debate including licensing of owners and registration of firearms, gun culture, public health issues – is lead an issue?, Environmental issues, including hunting, among others. Recent research from University of Otago will be reported.

Style of course

This is a symposium-style course, which will include discussion. There will also be a workshop session in which participants will consider options for the future. 

Who should attend?  

People interested in public health and firearms, staff from central and local government agencies concerned with firearms, the environment and health, media workers wanting an update on firearms issues.

Draft timetable

Time Session
8:30am Registration

Welcome  - Marie Russell University of Otago
Current research on firearms policy - Marie Russell University of Otago
Firearms safety and licensing in New Zealand - Nicole McKee Firearms Safety Specialists
Human health and lead – what’s the evidence? - Deborah Read Massey University

10:30am Morning tea
11am Police’s administration of the Arms Act  - Mike McIlraith New Zealand Police
The hidden reality of illegal firearms in New Zealand - Chris Cahill New Zealand Police Association
A disarming Public Health lesson from the Pacific (Pre-recorded talk) - Philip Alpers University of Sydney
Arms and the Law - Louise Delany University of Otago
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm The tradition of recreational firearm use in New Zealand - Don Rood Fish & Game New Zealand
Animal welfare issues - Sarah Zito RNZSPCA
Keeping the customer satisfied - Herb Christophers Department of Conservation

3pm Afternoon tea

Gun culture in New Zealand - Hera Cook University of Otago

Panel and discussion: Does New Zealand need new firearms policies? Chaz Forsyth, Lousie Signal, David Cairns

Conclusion and farewell

5pm Finish

Teaching staff  

Speakers will include:

  • Marie Russell- University of Otago, Wellington
  • Hera Cook - University of Otago, Wellington
  • Mike McIlraith - NZ Police
  • Nicole McKee - Firearms Safety Specialists NZ Limited (FSS NZ)
  • Chris Cahill - Police Association
  • Louise Delany - University of Otago, Wellington
  • Philip Alpers - University of Sydney (pre-recorded talk)
  • Don Rood - Fish & Game New Zealand
  • Sarah Zito – RNZSPCA
  • Deborah Read - Massey University

Read here for a summary of each speaker and their topic

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 20 December 2017.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now