A Significant Distortion of the Truth

Recent statements attributed to the Commissioner of Police, Andrew Coster, have repeated previous allegations from police that gangs acquire their firearms from licensed firearms owners. That is a significant distortion of the truth and by implication Coster maligns a quarter of a million carefully and properly vetted New Zealanders.

The Commissioner very conveniently fails to mention that 12 gang members who had “wrongly” been issued with firearms licenses were the conduit to gangs for a large number of firearms. Wrong, because no member of a gang would meet the “fit and proper” criteria required to hold a firearms license. If they had been issued with licenses, then those licenses should have been revoked. That would have been logical and easy. Police have a list of gang members and they have a list of licensed firearms owners so a simple comparison of the two lists for match ups would have not only been obvious but easy to do. Clearly, that has not been done.

It is known that some of that 12 bought up large in order to supply guns to their gang associates, so it is easy to see how police can say “hand on heart” that the gangs are getting their guns from licensed firearms owners. However, the reality is quite different and it is extremely disappointing that our New Zealand police lacked the integrity to acknowledge the truth.

This situation not only offends the properly vetted firearms owners, it begs the question of why those 12 firearms licenses were ever issued in the first instance and more importantly why they remained valid and were not revoked. One has to question police administration efficiency.

In this regard, we are reminded that the Royal Commission held that police failings in issuing the Mosque shooter Tarrant with a firearms license also emanated from sloppy police work. These twelve gang related license holders seem to be yet another example of poor police vetting?

To further illustrate the falsehood of the Commissioner’s claims we obtained the following data for the most recent 10 years through Official Information Act enquiries to police:

1. An annual average of only 9 holders of a firearm license have been prosecuted for supplying firearms to unlicensed people (not necessarily or exclusively gang members). Police and/or Police Association media statements suggest a much greater number.

2. Annually an average of 188 license holders report a burglary where firearms are taken. (The number shows a slight increase in the most recent 5 years). Police and/or Police Association statements do not usually state numbers but they imply a much larger number.

3. The total number of firearms reported stolen from license holders average 567 per year. Yet an earlier OIA response states police seize some 1300 unlawfully held guns each year. This clearly rebuts Commissioner Coster’s claim that gangs get their guns from licensed firearms owners. We have always been of the opinion that gangs import guns along with their narcotics imports.

4. An average figure for firearms reported stolen that are recovered is 32 per year. (one is tempted to ask how effective NZ Police are; of course, we do sympathise with police on this aspect as the first thing that a gang member will do is a make a 5 second pass across the stolen firearm with an angle grinder to remove serial numbers).

As an aside, we point out that simple act with a grinder makes a mockery of the police “justification” for the new Firearms Register to be implemented in two years time.

5. On average 3 firearms are reported lost each year, although it should be noted that this number is declining. Very few of these appear to be recovered (4 in 11 years).’ We would make two observations on this.

(a) In our view this small number is a recognition that firearms are treated by licensed firearms owners as valuable assets (or even treasured possessions)

(b) It is highly likely that losses could be by hunters in difficult and/or dangerous terrain

6. Police themselves lose on average 2 firearms of their own each year due to loss or theft (interestingly their OIA response on this point failed to include the 11 firearms stolen from Palmerston North police station last year nor those stolen from police cars). The comparison is stark. Licenced Firearms Owners loss as a percentage of the total owned is 0.00013% and the police loss is 0.033% i.e police are 300 times more likely to lose a firearm than a licensed firearms owner.

In Summary

  • Just 0.0035% of the total population of licensed firearm owners are prosecuted for supplying guns to unlicensed people.
  • Less than half the guns seized by police are those stolen from licensed owners so where do the bulk come from?
  • It is our contention that most guns circulating in the underworld (250,000 estimate) are those accumulated over many years, (“bring backs” from two world wars and other conflicts) along with more modern firearms smuggled into the country with $millions of drugs.
  • Added to this police have provided 12 known gang associates with a firearm license so it is no wonder that criminals have ready access to firearms.

What exactly is a 3D printed “Ghost Gun”?

Following the recent Sun newspaper article, we sought the opinion of a 3D printing specialist here in NZ, and following is his reply:

First off, a “Ghost Gun” is a firearm, usually home made, that lacks serial numbers.
3D Printing is nothing to do with it, any more than a hacksaw is. Back in the last century these were called “Zip guns,” made from pipe and rubber bands, and as much danger to the holder as anyone else.

A Briton by the name of P. A. Luty literally wrote the books on home made firearms. His designs cost less than £300 and don’t require anything more than ordinary DIY tools. His publications are widely available, and have been for decades. It’s not rocket science.

Most “3D printed” firearms seen in the USA rely on precision factory metal components (barrels, magazines, locking mechanisms etc.) which are not restricted over there.

It is interesting that these designs are often semi-automatic. It is considerably harder to make a semi-automatic gun than a fully automatic one unless you have access to precision parts. You’d think that hardened criminals would go for rapid fire, so frankly I suspect someone is just trying to show off.

AR’s, AK’s and so forth rely on the strength and wear resistance of metals to contain pressures measured in tens of thousands of PSI. In theory a plastic gun might hold a .22 round, but a plastic AR or AK is fantasy. Making parts other than the critical (and restricted) barrel and bolt is relatively simple using pretty much any process – even duct tape would suffice to hold them together.

There are designs that use 3D printed bits as templates and for low-stress parts, and common hardware store items for the stronger bits. But basically the same thing can be accomplished with printed paper templates, and aluminium or plywood. It’s simply a question of design, and by necessity these designs are not copies of normal firearms though they may superficially resemble them.

What’s missing here is 3D printed ammunition. That, I suspect, is a somewhat tougher nut to crack.

It has always been possible for malcontents to make their own functional firearms. They’re simple technology for anyone who can understand how to service a motorbike engine, for example.

 
What we should be asking  ourselves is why more people would be feeling the need to do it?

New Gun laws have not made NZ safer but Commissioner Coster blames legal firearm owners

We have every sympathy for front line officers caught up in the recent shooting incidents in Hamilton and Auckland over the past week, however we refute the Commissioners assertion that the source of guns in the hands of criminals is from burglaries of law abiding owners (5:20).

He refuses to acknowledge that if millions of dollars of illegal drugs can be smuggled into the country, guns can also come by the same means.

He also claims that some licence holders have sold guns to gangs, forgetting that police themselves have issued a dozen licences to known gang members.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018804202/police-commissioner-looking-into-frontline-officer-safety-as-risk-rises

Police Minister doesn’t know the law she voted for.

A police officer is shot in Hamilton and in a media release commenting on that, the Police Minister has said “Cabinet was “working on the process” of getting a gun register in place to stop these weapons getting into the wrong hands”, Williams said. “We will make decisions on that as soon as we can.

Incredible! Is it possible she doesn’t remember voting into law on June 18th last year legislation to establish a Register of Firearms?

AND just how is a register going to stop “weapons getting into the wrong hands” ? Could she tell us just how will the fact a firearm is registered stop it from being stolen?

AND what use will a register be anyway when Police’s own figures show that it is common for the serial numbers to be ground off stolen firearms.

AND does she not know that gangs import guns along with narcotics? Perhaps she thinks the gangs will register these illegal imports?

AND does she know that gangs and now making their own guns? Will they apply serial numbers and register those guns?

Really Minister!

Police Firearms Administration a Disgrace!

Are our Police fit for purpose asks Neville Dodd president of Sporting Shooters. If the “purpose” is the administration of the firearms law, they themselves wrote then “the answer is clearly a resounding no!

Look at their current gross under-performance” he says.

Some obvious examples are:
• Grossly excessive delays in processing applications (see table below – a shocking indictment)
• Long delays in replying to emails and (in a lot of cases) not replying at all
• Dealers left in uncertainty over running their businesses because their annual licence
renewals are not being processed promptly.
• Rude and aggressive interviews of licence applicants and their families and referees
• Demands for details of home layout – to be stored on the porous police computer

Government must give urgency to the establishment of the previously announced independent Firearms Administration Authority Dodd says. “Confine police to what they are good at – policing the law. Not writing the law and not administering the law they have written.”

More red tape as museums forced to hold gun dealers licenses.

Guns are inanimate but the Government seems determined to personify them as evil, as more & more pointless restrictions have been passed into law.

That is the view of Neville Dodd, president of Sporting Shooters, on the new law that requires museum curators to hold a firearms dealer’s license if there are any firearms in their museum’s collection. “This is just another ridiculous example of wrapping pointless red tape around the knee jerk reaction after the 2019 massacre.”

He says the museums in New Zealand have adequate security to ensure any firearms held by them are secure and this latest law is only going to discourage museums from fulfilling their function of displaying our some of our significant history.

Museums are already required to have a standard firearms licensee if they hold firearms in their collection. To now require that they hold an annual firearms dealers licence just adds pointless complexity and cost for no purpose as museums obviously are not in the business of buying, selling, hiring or manufacturing firearms and are therefore not dealers.

“Firearms are a significant part of New Zealand’s world history and inhibiting the preservation of that history with pointless and complex law changes will lead to a significant part of that history being lost to future generations.”

He says, in his view, legally licensed gun owners are already drowning in convoluted legislation and security rules that restrict transportation of guns and the use of them.

“I recognise Police have a problem with illegal guns in criminal hands and finding and seizing those guns, but dumping pointless restrictions onto the law-abiding people is not going to stop the public shootings.”

This is particularly the case as “We know that illicit firearms are flowing freely through our ports, and now the latest is that the criminal element are making their own guns by using 3D printers, so we say Government and Police should close those gaps and stop wasting time and taxpayers’ funds persecuting the law-abiding sportsmen and women.”

“Seriously, passing complicated (some would say unintelligible) laws that make people such as Museum Curators have to apply for a firearms dealer’s license is only going to lead to people getting more and more frustrated.

There are strong rumblings of discontent about the laws and red tape; surely the Government should listen?

Not to, will cost them at the next election.”

Kudos to Police

The Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand congratulates NZ Police on its success in concluding the New Zealand end of Operation Trojan Shield, which saw the arrest of 35 people involved in the illegal drug trade and the seizure of $3.7 million assets, which included drugs, cash, firearms, vehicles and boats.

President Neville Dodd said, “while we are quick to criticise our police for policy decisions that adversely affect New Zealand lawful firearm owners we must give credit where it is due. These arrests of gang leaders and members of other organised criminal groups is a significant disruption of the drug trade that is so damaging to our communities.”

Police are also to be congratulated for recent arrests made of suspects involved in shootings, believed mostly gang related, that have taken place over the past months.

As Dodd says “ It is encouraging to see our police arresting the bad guys, and removing drugs and illegal firearms from circulation. We hope their efforts are adequately upheld by the Justice System with appropriate penalties.”

DIC on duty; Police officer’s brief lapse or battle fatigue?

News that a Police officer in his police car was five times over the legal alcohol limit for driving begs the question: was it a brief lapse while on duty, or is it an example of total fear of being inadequately trained and likely to be confronted by (unlicensed) armed offenders?

That is the question put by the President of the Sporting Shooters Assn Neville Dodd. He says the police are facing unacceptable odds in an armed confrontation where the odds are stacked against them. “How can an officer confidently face up to another armed person when they have had very little training in handling their firearm and will have to deal with life – and career – threatening consequences.”

He says the criminals armed with illegal firearms do care about training, they are usually full of adrenaline and full of confidence believing, in their minds, that they will out-shoot the police. “It has become very obvious that the users of illegal firearms, (and the Police have only a vague idea who they are or where the weapons are), have the upper hand.”

Dodd says he can understand the pressure the frontline Police are feeling. “We really feel for those men and women. At any moment while on duty, they are likely to be called into a situation and be faced with an armed offender who will not hesitate to pull the trigger and take them out.”

He says being drunk on duty and driving a Police car in that state is something that needed to be addressed, and it has been, but he suggests it may very well be a product of the stress all police officers are under.

“Personally, I would not want to face the things the officers face. Those in the armed forces are rigorously trained in facing armed adversaries, but our frontline Police officers are given only a few days of training and gun handling, with limited bullets to shoot, each year.

I suggest the Government compares the armed forces regimes to the Police training, and ask themselves the hard questions. Especially as most of the armed forces are not facing armed situations, on an almost daily basis as the Police are.”

Police Making Law on the fly

It has been necessary to point out to police, that with their latest proposals for firearms regulations there are:

• many instances where they are proposing regulations that exceed the mandate given to them by Parliament;
• other instances where their interpretation of the law as passed by Parliament is “convenient” or indeed in conflict;
• there are several regulations they propose that are already dealt with under other law, and finally
• in some cases they are proposing regulations that are just plain dangerous.

They are probably realizing the reality that the vast amount of rushed firearms law changes over the last two years is poorly drafted.  It has also become so voluminous (345 pages) that the old New Zealand tradition (and legal precedent) of  “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is no longer justice.

Indeed, its application would be an injustice of itself.

If police themselves can’t get it right, and lawyers are struggling to keep up, what hope has the average Kiwi Licensed Firearms Owner of knowing what New Zealand expects of him/her?

Thoughts on NZ’s New Firearms Laws (by a member)

A likely disaster

The new firearms legislation, is likely to become a disaster. Let me explain:

In the UK, thousands of sports shooters had their guns taken and destroyed. At first it was the semi auto rifles, then our pistols, and some shotguns. We endured the jibes and nasty remarks from the government and the media which linked us with gangs, street thugs and murderers.

The New Zealand I moved to 15 years ago allowed me to enjoy the sports and pastime which I missed so dearly for so many years as a ‘fit and proper person’ in the UK. I have never been in trouble with the law, save a couple of minuscule traffic violations. However once again, I have had to hand over some of my private possessions for destruction and this is sickening.

I know that not everyone likes guns, as many just associate them with war or violence. Personally I hate violence of any kind inflicted on fellow men, even harsh contact sports. I do however, love target shooting, which can be challenging, difficult and at times frustrating, but often very rewarding.

The further proposed legislation will basically give the authorities the power to turn just about any “decent” firearms owner or gunsmith, into a criminal. The rules are so complex and ridiculous in many instances, that even the best of us cannot hope to adhere to or abide by them all.

Why some of these are being considered is mind boggling. They will not only confuse and befuddle firearm owners, but they will bring untold complication and ridiculous complexity to anyone repairing guns, and how are the authorities to keep track of all of this nonsense?

Whose fault Christchurch? Clearly NZ Police!

We had one of the worlds best, and clearest set of rules and regulations, which I have to say was the envy of the world, and it worked.

The Christchurch shooting happened not because our gun laws were too relaxed, or that we had “semi-automatic” rifles. It was because the basic vetting system that the police were supposed to undertake prior to a person being considered “fit and proper”, was not followed through with.

In other words, if the police had actually checked the information, and had tried to contact the referees, the shooter would have never had access to firearms as he would not have been granted a license.

Wake up call

Most firearms owners are either unaware of their upcoming difficulties in the unfathomable legislation, or are burying their heads in the sand, hoping that they can just ignore them.

We have read the stories of decent law abiding people, who having had their homes raided by armed police, their families terrorised and their names tarnished, for simply putting a photo on their social media of a picture of some firearm from the past. If this isn’t harmful to the relationship between good decent people and the police authorities, I really do not know what is.

If you wanted to create division, distrust, secrecy and sheer contempt, then you could not go about it any better than this.

A trust lost

I remember how amazed I was by the alliance between firearms holders and the police in New Zealand. You could talk to the “cops” and they would respond. The communication flowed both ways, and it was as it should be.

The once friendly “cop” has been given a huge set of directives and rules, which even s/he cannot understand. It doesn’t stop there, as we are asked to make submissions, even though the new proposals are not complete, yet enormously detailed.

That, and a very short time in which to formulate our replies, or to alert other firearms owners who may not even be aware of them.

The result will be a disaster, for the community of New Zealand
For all of us; shooters and non shooters.