Police Association astounded at Government rejection of firearms controls

NZPA | Wed June 14th, 2017

The New Zealand Police Association says the Minister of Police has today ignored the risk of increased firearms threats to the public, and made the jobs of front line officers more difficult and definitely more dangerous.

Association President Chris Cahill said gun presence and/or violence is now reported in New Zealand on a daily basis and Minister Paula Bennett’s gutting of the recommendations of the Law and Order Select Committee’s Inquiry into the possession of illegal firearms will do nothing to rectify that.

“The Minister has rejected every meaningful measure put forward by the Committee in a genuine effort to prevent the supply of firearms to criminals,” Mr Cahill said.

“Minister Bennett appears to have bowed to the pressure of the gun lobby which we believe  represents fewer than 10,000 of the 240,000 licensed gun owners.  She has ignored the deliberations of the Select Committee, even on the common sense and obvious recommendations, to the point you have to ask why hold an inquiry in the first place,” he said.

Mr Cahill acknowledges the Minister’s statement that nobody wants firearms getting into the hands of violent gang members, but says that’s exactly what is happening now and essentially maintaining the status quo will not rectify an already unacceptable situation.

“The Minister’s concern about ‘over the top’ rules and restrictions on hunters and shooters ignores the reality that New Zealand is awash with illegal firearms and the majority of them are stolen,” he said.

“The Association does not want to burden legitimate gun owners, but does not believe any of the Committee’s recommendations did that.”

The Association keeps a record of firearms incidents reported by its members.  The following is just a small sample of those recorded in and around the Auckland area in the last few days:

- male victim assaulted by offenders with a shotgun and pistol

- police locate rifle in vehicle tracked by Eagle helicopter

- victim threatened by 4 males with shotgun

- three offenders discharged shotgun in late night bar, took contents of slot machine

- Black Power supporter’s vehicle search revealed sawn off shotgun and ammunition

- vehicle containing air rifle and stubb nosed pistol stolen outside owner’s address

- male driver waves long barrelled firearm out window of vehicle

- vehicle containing 2 shotguns stolen from owner’s address

- pump action shotgun belonging to patched Tribesman member located during search

- shotgun victim had been using for duck shooting stolen from vehicle parked near rugby club

“In one Police district alone, officers seized 525 firearms, and recorded 461 offences involving either breaches of the Arms Act or criminal use of a firearm in the last fiscal year,” Mr Cahill said.

“Control of firearms is taken very seriously by the Association because it is our members who stand between criminals with guns and the public. That is why we question the reasons behind the Minister’s rejection of a very simple and painless measure such as Police recording serial numbers of all firearms upon renewal of licence or inspection of premises,” he said.

He added that another puzzling decision was for the Minister to recommend the introduction of the power to suspend licences pending decision on revocation, in order to give Police an alternative to cancelling a licence in situations such as someone charged with family violence or where security issues need to be resolved.

“The Association would consider family violence or lack of secure storage to be potential red flags when it comes to the right to have guns”, Mr Cahill said.

While the Association does not question the personal integrity of the two people the Minister appointed as independent advisors on the firearms report, it does challenge their ‘independence’ given one actually made submissions against the Committee’s recommendations.

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