Wokester or Toothless?

A toothless Commissioner?

National MP Simon Bridges has drawn a lot of political fire about calling the Commissioner of Police Andrew Coster, a “wokester” but others either agree or would even take it further.  Neville Dodd, president of the Sporting Shooters Assn of New Zealand, SSANZ, says sadly the Commissioner is coming across as toothless. The gangs must be relishing his recent statements.

“We have seen yet another shooting, this time in the streets of Papatoetoe, that unfortunately resulted in the Police having to take a life because the victim refused to lower his shotgun. In my view the Police involved had no other option, Dodd said, but police officers should not be put in situations like that.”

Dodd says he totally agrees with Police superintendent Jill Rogers when she said the worst possible decision a police officer could make was to take some-one’s life, but he says until the New Zealand gang & drug scene is cleaned up such shootings seem inevitable.

“It appears the victim in this case was under the influence of narcotics and seemingly had no idea what he was doing. A case of a drug habit costing him his life.”

Criminals to blame
Dodd adds that he personally does not blame the addicts, he blames the criminal underbelly for pushing the drugs and the Police for having let the gang’s drug peddlers gain an upper hand. “If the methamphetamine is as bad as we are led to believe, it is little wonder that users feel they can take on anyone, even Police with guns.” To be fair the problem of a combination of porous borders, an obscenely lucrative trade in narcotics and so many illicit guns under gang control, can not be controlled by Police alone. Parliament must step in.

The porosity of our borders is a joke and drugs and guns can flow in freely; invariably under gang control.”

“I know it is a big call, but the Police seem to be unable to get the situation under control.”

A good start, but…
He says he applauds the action already taken with raids and confiscation of guns and assets, but he says, that will never be enough. “It is like the mythical dragon that grows two heads every time you cut one head off, What New Zealanders want and deserve, is to feel safe and to know that they are not going to end up in some sort of warfare and risking being shot because of it.”

Much more to do…
He says wokester or toothless, either word points to the same thing: the Police are far from controlling serious crime in New Zealand and serious situations involving illegal firearms will continue until the problem is sorted.

Commissioner Coster should be asking his Minister, her colleagues the Minister of Customs and the Minister of Justice to introduce laws that will secure our borders and discourage criminal activity by gangs.

Gangs still very much in the limelight.

Raids, confiscation of assets and (some) gang members being allowed to legally buy firearms and ammunition still lead our national news bulletins, but it seems no-one has had the courage to ask if the Police and the Government have already lost the “war” against gangs.

Gangs running riot?

Neville Dodd, president of the Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand Inc. (SSANZ) says the situation has been allowed to escalate to the point that the gangs are running riot and the Police are just dealing with the tip of the iceberg, and the Government is doing nothing at all.

“Under the present Government, gang membership has risen by 46%. Critically, about 2% are hard core rejects rom Australia. Police appear to be doing everything they can, but it seems they are outnumbered and possibly outgunned.” It also appears they are not adequately supported by the law. He says recent shootings and retaliation shootings prove that gangs have no respect for the law or the rest of the population. “It is comparable to the mafia activities in the USA where “families” fought for territory within cities so they could run their multi million dollar drug businesses; the parallel is frightening.”

Australian turf wars

Dodd agrees that the return of gang members from Australia is clearly a major factor in this. “Turf wars in Australia are common, so with the arrival of new players such as the Comancheros and the Mongols, tensions here have ratcheted up as the fight for a slice of the methamphetamine and cocaine trades escalates.”

Police Commissioner, Andrew Coster, has gone on record saying “Regardless of what the numbers are doing, we have seen a shift in the level of violence and a greater willingness to use firearms.” This is of great public concern, especially to communities with gang pads in their neighbourhood.

Last year figures provided by police showed 2399 people charged with 4552 offences and 1862 firearms seized. Dodd says the reality is that some of those firearms were stolen from licensed firearms owners, who are victims in this terrible situation but a large number are coming in through ports with no container scanning and a level of inspection that is woefully absent.”

The solution?

He says the Government needs to face up to this, listen to suggestions from all sources including the other political parties and take action before it is too late. “ACT and National are both calling for control of, or the banning of the gangs, and for the Police to mount constant pressure on them. We must remember that gangs are running multi million dollar businesses through their drug activities without adding a cent to the economy, and they will use what ever means at their disposal to ensure that continues.”

Police target gangs

Finally some action?

The recent announcement by the Commissioner of Police that they have launched a nationwide operation to target illegal firearms in the hands of the gangs is “great news” says SSANZ President Neville Dodd. “Many of the firearms in the hands of gangs have been stolen from innocent licenced firearms owners and they too are victims of gang criminality”.

“However, we have serious concerns about the validity of some of the comments attributed to the Commissioner. Does he really think that a gang member without a firearms licence is going to record a firearm he has stolen in the newly legislated firearms register”- and pay a fee for the privilege of doing so. In SSANZ opinion the register will inevitably be the same expensive failure as the now abandoned Canadian firearms register.

Police failed, again!

The Commissioner does himself no favours when he disingenuously cites the circumstances of the Mosque assassin acquiring his firearms. The Royal Commission made it very clear that it was police failure that allowed the assassin to acquire a firearms licence. The Commission’s final words in section 5 of their report are damning – ““We find that New Zealand Police failed to meet required standards in the administration of the firearms licensing system.”

We are also disturbed by his comment that there were “examples of firearms licence holders legitimately buying firearms and then selling them on the black market.” There is no surprise in this since Police themselves have given firearms licences to 12 known gang members. Seems they have not learned from the mosque experience. However, the question must be “why have those known gang members still got firearms licences?”

As a further indication of the failure of the recent highly complex firearms laws we are advised that front line police officers are now being deployed to help police arms administrators clear the backlog of firearm licence renewals/applications which in many cases are 6 months or more in arrears.

Gang Members and Gun Licenses.

A recent call from ACT MP Nicole McKee raises an important question.

Ms. McKee has asked the Government during question time why known gang members are being issued firearms licenses when, she says, gang members should not be allowed to hold one.
The number of known gang members to hold a license rose from 11 to 12 recently.

Neville Dodd, president of Sporting Shooters Assn of New Zealand says the Police are figuratively shooting themselves in the foot by allowing licensed gang members to buy and then distribute ammunition to fellow gang members who are in possession of unlawful firearms.

“The law says you can’t buy ammunition unless you can show you have a current firearms license, so it is simple, a licensed gang member can supply the underbelly with however much ammunition they need. The question must be asked – how did Police come to issue firearms licenses to known gang members”.

McKee is adamant that known gang members should not be able to have access to ammunition and Dodd agrees. “I am right with her on this. Police must cancel the firearms licenses of known gang members & associates. Police have missed a beat on this. Cut off the supply of ammunition and the gangs use of firearms is neutralised. Police have the ability to act on this and so far they have not.” However, Dodd also has praise for the Police and what they are doing with respect to raids on gangs.

“The recent arrest of a gang leader who arrived in New Zealand penniless, having been extradited from Australia and the confiscation of millions of dollars’ worth of assets shows clearly there is huge money being made by the gangs through drug deals and general crime, and sadly the use of guns for intimidation and their own defense is part of it all”. He says a quick count up of shooting instances including drive by shootings and tit for tat shootings shows just how they totally disregard the law and those charged with keeping the law”.

Dodd says he and his organisation are right behind the Police on this but do ask if Police can ever break the gangs and their hold on organised crime under the existing criminal law.

Is the law an Ass? Criminals (by definition) ignore them.

Firearm laws are a lot like most other laws; essentially triumphs of hope over reality.  The hope is they will work! The reality, especially in the case of firearms laws is that they can’t work.

The idea is that they will reduce crime.  In fact they are only complied with by those who wish or need to comply with them (on pain of losing their firearm licence if they don’t, and get caught) and these people are NOT criminals.

So the real ‘target market’, potential criminal offenders, (NOT the licensed firearm owners), are neither affected by or even remotely influenced by firearm controls.  Their activities become curtailed only if they are detected, apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced.  They may even go away for a while.  But they’ll be back as it is only in the rarest of cases are they reformed.

Meanwhile, the law abiding Licenced Firearms Owners, bedevilled by bureaucratic laws and pettifogging restrictions waste time, money and effort in order to try and comply.  True, these laws have some (minimal) public good in an economic sense but only to the extent they generate work for loyal public servants. Remember, these laws are simply seeming to harass the already compliant.

The building of resentment at overly restrictive laws tends to invite non-compliance among even the law abiding which can lead to contempt for the law.  

Making the ‘law an ass’ is surely not the original intention of law makers, is it?