POLICE MINISTER DELIVERS HER VERDICT

Today Police Minister Paula Bennett has delivered the government response to the Report of the Select Committee Inquiry into the Illegal possession of firearms by criminals.  SSANZ is pleased to report that the minister has largely rejected all those recommendations that we opposed. This is thanks to all of you who communicated your views to the minister and her advisors.

In addition to the 8 recommendations she has accepted she has introduced two new recommendations which we see as beneficial: 1. to give the Police power to suspend a licence rather than revoke it, allowing the problem to be resolved more quickly and 2. To require Police to consult more with the firearm community.

Remember before any of the recommendations become law there will be a further round of consultation as any new Bill proceeds through the Select Committee stage.

You can read the minister press release and a summary of her response HERE:

Guns in Schools

Following a report in the media where NZDF personnel allowed children at a school to handle military rifles, there have been calls from some quarters to ban guns in schools and now the Minister of Education is planning to introduce guidelines to control such activities.

it is worth remembering that it is not so many years ago that most boys schools had cadet units that trained with up to date military firearms of that period including machine guns. Even today many schools have their own clay target and smallbore rifle teams. Many volunteer Firearms Safety Instructors have provided firearm safety lectures at local schools so that students can sit the test for their firearms licence, local clubs have provided practical shooting experience for school children on many occasions. Shooting is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and physical ability and it teaches self discipline and self control, most children given the opportunity enjoy the experience.

With over 240,000 homes in New Zealand with firearms it is inevitable that many young children will be exposed to firearms, particularly in rural areas where a firearm is a tool regularly used by their parents or other family members. Firearm safety training at an early age has been shown to lead to safer and more responsible firearm use in later life, just as defencive driving programmes have improved young driver behaviour.

Rather than ban firearms from schools, as has been suggested by some MPs, it would seem more appropriate to include firearm safety training in the curriculum.

School Boards of Trustees should also be free to judge what extra-curricular activities are appropriate for their own community.

In any event in developing guidelines for firearms in schools the minister should consult with the firearm community, particularly the Firearm Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The cache that started the inquiry into illegal possession of firearms by criminals

As a result of an Official Information Act request to Police we can now reveal that the cache of firearms seized in Auckland as part of Operation Turbo, last March that was the catalyst for the Select Committee Inquiry into how criminals obtain firearms, comprised of the following:

7 MSSA E Cat rifles (M 4, AK 47 and 10/22) for M4 read AR 15 type

4 Semi auto A Cat rifles (AK 47, M 4, M14)

2 shotguns and I bolt action A Cat rifle

3 Pistols (included a modified 10/22)

NONE were previously reported stolen by licensed owners. Only one of these firearms was imported legally, an M4 in 2003, and registered to a licensed owner.    Which begs the question HOW DID THESE MODERN MSSAs ENTER NZ?  SSANZ would suggest through our POROUS BORDER, which rather makes a mockery of the recommendations put forward by the Select Committee report.

The offender in question was convicted on representative counts of unlawful possession of firearms (3), ammunition (2)and also convicted for manufacturing and possessing with intent to supply Methamphetamine.

Report of the Inquiry into Illegal Firearms in the New Zealand Community

The Law and Order Select Committee published its report on 7 April 2017, of the 20 recommendations only three address the issue of illegal firearms in the hands of criminals, while the remaining 17 propose further restrictions on lawful licensed firearm owners.

Three factors need to be remembered:

(a) these are merely recommendations, and will not necessarily form or become government policy;

(b) they are NOT the law, but may lead to changes in the law;

(c) Any law change will have to undergo due process, that is (unless urgency is taken by Parliament) undergo three readings, select committee processing (to hear public input) before being passed into law.  Timeline for this may be as long as two to three years.

The Select Committee recommendations are listed under six subheadings:

Sale and supply of firearms and ammunition

Definition of military-style semi-automatics

Effectiveness of licensing, training, and registering firearms

Criminal offending with firearms

Reducing the number of grey firearms

Importing firearms into New Zealand

Many of the recommendations suggest changes which are already in effect, of which already exist under the Crimes Act (1961, and subsequent amendments), the Arms Act (1983, and subsequent amendments) and the Arms Regulations (1992, and subsequent amendments).

The entire report and its recommendations may be found at:

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/reports/document/SCR_72851/inquiry-into-issues-relating-to-the-illegal-possession

Members are invited to write to their local Member of Parliament to comment upon these proposals.

A full review of the Select Committee report by COLFO may be viewed here

No link between the rate of gun ownership and homicide rates

A new study to be published today undertaken by the Criminology Department of the University of Liege, has shown that there is no link between gun ownership rates and homicide rates.

The study, funded by WFSA but conducted independently, shows that  there is no scientific evidence proving that stricter regulations and a reduction in the quantity and type of legal firearms have any effect on homicides, crime and terrorism.

The study examined data from 52 countries including New Zealand, but excluding the USA.

An executive summary of the study may be read here

Reviewing the Arms Act 1983

This article will consider the implications of publicly available submissions recently made to the Select Committee on Illegal Firearms, as they may affect licensed arms owners.  It will do this by addressing what appear to be widely held concerns about the private ownership of firearms.  It is important to keep in mind however, that most of the incidents which have led to this inquiry have a connection with illicit drugs and people not authorised to hold firearms. Read more here.