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?