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.

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?

The Royal Commission of Inquiry – No Accountability

Firearm owners have waited 19 months for the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attacks, in the firm belief that it would vindicate their view that they were in no way responsible for this heinous crime.  Regardless of the fact that our Security Intelligence services failed to detect any warning signs it is well known that the police failed in their duty to properly assess the suitability of Brenton Tarrant to own a firearm and went ahead and issued him with a firearm licence.

Multiple delays

Originally planned to be released in December 2019 the Commissioners were granted a number of time extensions, due to the numbers of people to be interviewed and also delays caused by Covid 19 lock down, with a final date of 26 November.

The inquiry’s report was provided to Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti on 27 Novemberand was publicly released on December 8, after first being shared with victims’ families and political party leaders.

Evidence suppressed

Many firearm owners were shocked and angered to learn that:

Evidence given by ministers and public sector bosses to the Inquiry will be suppressed for 30 years.
An interview with the Australian-born terrorist will never be released out of concern it could inspire and assist further attacks.
A number of individuals involved in the inquiry would also have their identities suppressed, including the police officers who vetted Tarrant for his firearms licence and the people who provided references for him.

It seems that despite the 51 deaths no one is to be held accountable for the failings of state agencies that contributed to this tragedy.

Numerous Failures by Police

We finally got to see the report for ourselves on the 8th December and this is what we learned from Section 5:

District firearms staff are given limited initial training and, in recent years, no ongoing training and current training standards are outdated and inconsistent across New Zealand Police.
Licensing staff are not trained to go beyond what is in the Firearms Licence Vetting Guide.
The unusual nature of the individuals firearms licence application was not appreciated.
The Dunedin Vetting Officer did not inquire of the individual how well he knew his referees
The order of interviews did not follow the ordinary process where referees are interviewed before the applicant
All of those we spoke to who engaged with this issue agreed that this level of interaction between the individual and gaming friend was insufficient to justify using them as a substitute for a near-relative referee. This included experienced members of New Zealand Police.
We consider the standard licensing practice to which we have just referred is inappropriately limited
We are of the view that the guidance given by New Zealand Police to licensing staff was inadequate, as was their training.

and finally and most important of all the Commission says as its final word on that section of their report:

We find that New Zealand Police failed to meet required standards in the administration of the firearms licensing system.


As our President Neville Dodd said in a press release
Clearly the responsibility for the dreadful atrocity rests with police for their incompetence in issuing Tarrant a licence.

Obviously we are pleased that the Prime Minister and Commissioner of Police apologised for these failures to the victims and their families, but note there was no apology forthcoming for the unnecessary victimisation of the firearm community.

 

NZ government’s impulsive firearm confiscation an unnecessary waste of taxpayer $

A waste & an injustice

Sporting Shooters Association President Neville Dodd says “The release of the Royal Commission report on the Christchurch Mosque atrocity proves very clearly that the government’s impulsive response of firearm confiscation was an unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars and a gross injustice to the 248,764 properly vetted firearms licence holders, who have been vilified and victimized by government and by police.”

“If only the Government had the common sense to wait for the Royal Commission’s report or at least listened to us they would have known that the atrocity was not a failure of the legislation but rather of the police administration of that legislation” he said.

Police administrative failures

Examples of this are scattered right through the Commission’s report but particularly in Part 5 where the Commission explicitly says:

⦁ District firearms staff are given limited initial training and, in recent years, no ongoing training and current training standards are outdated and inconsistent across New Zealand Police.
⦁ Licensing staff are not trained to go beyond what is in the Firearms Licence Vetting Guide.
⦁ The unusual nature of the individual’s firearms licence application was not appreciated.
⦁ The Dunedin Vetting Officer did not inquire of the individual how well he knew his referees
⦁ The order of interviews did not follow the ordinary process where referees are interviewed before the applicant
⦁ All of those we spoke to who engaged with this issue agreed that this level of interaction between the individual and gaming friend was insufficient to justify using them as a substitute for a near-relative referee. This included experienced members of New Zealand Police.
⦁ We consider the standard licensing practice to which we have just referred is inappropriately limited
⦁ We are of the view that the guidance given by New Zealand Police to licensing staff was inadequate, as was their training.

… and finally and most important of all, the Commission says as its final word on that section of their report:

“We find that New Zealand Police failed to meet required standards in the administration of  the firearms licensing system.”

Who’s responsible?

Clearly the responsibility for the dreadful atrocity rests with police for their incompetence in issuing Tarrant a licence, Dodd says.