• Even experienced hunters can get caught out with tragic consequences in a reminder for caution and respect when out in the bush.
    Even experienced hunters can get caught out with tragic consequences in a reminder for caution and respect when out in the bush.
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It's not a legal requirement for everyone in New Zealand to use a firearm. According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, licensed gun owners can allow others without a licence or training to use their firearms and that is one aspect of the country's gun laws under question after a series of hunting accidents.

The report pointed to a 44-year-old duck hunter who was shot in the elbow recently and another man, also 44, who was released on bail after being charged with careless use of a firearm causing injury.

This has led to gun control campaigners to call on tougher gun ownership laws with chairman of Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University, Kevin Clements, saying there were 1.1 million guns in the country and gun laws needed "urgent" review.

The report went on to highlight other incidents that have contributed to the 19 deaths and 57 injuries suffered in hunting accidents in the past 10 years.

Cyndy McDonald's son Cameron, 29, died after being shot in the head while hunting in South Wairarapa. The man who fired the fatal shot, Christopher Dummer, was a highly experienced hunter and a former branch president with the New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association.

McDonald said she relived her son's death every time another hunter was shot.

"I thought that would have hit home to a lot of people," she said. "But it doesn't seem to have changed, we're always hearing about more incidents. Friends phone up and say 'have you heard?' And it's just everything over again."

McDonald wants harsher penalties as a deterrent, and also tighter gun licensing regulations.

"We would like it to be like a driver's licence – every five years it has to be renewed because people's circumstances change. Currently there is no review, which is crazy."

Last month, Southland man Adam David Hill, 25, died after being shot in the chest by a member of another hunting party in Southland, and in March, a 22-year-old man was shot by his father near Opotiki.

Mountain Safety Council firearms and hunter safety manager Nicole McKee said: "Too many people are seeing colour, movement and shape and firing. The consequence is losing your mates."

There are 239,000 firearms licences in New Zealand and McKee said the number is rising.

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