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.

Royal Commission shows Arms Act changes driven by politics

The Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand (SSANZ) has today criticised the Prime Minister for attempting to ‘repackage’ the findings in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Mosque shooting.

Government Moved Too Quickly

SSANZ President Neville Dodd says the Prime Minister has tried to move too quickly onto the Government prepared response, and not allow the nation to consider the implications of the report.
“We, the nation, ought to consider this report of over 700 pages in our own time, and not be rushed by the Government into its pre-planned kneejerk response.
“They did that to us following the shooting, banning firearms and changing laws, that we can now see were not justified by the shooting itself.”

Police Failed

Dodd said the Prime Minister has tried to rush everyone past the very critical finding that Police failed to follow the legislated requirement to ensure a firearm licence holder is fit and proper.
“That is something worth considering at length, because the Government has just spent almost two years pretending that didn’t happen.
“Instead, the Government legislated away the property rights of thousands of licenced firearm owners across New Zealand with changes to the Arms Act.”

Government didn’t have evidence to act

He says the Prime Minister’s statement that “today we have the answers” was an admission that the Government did not have the evidence and answers when it went on a legislative rampage against law abiding firearm owners.
“Today’s report indicates that Tarrant would have committed an atrocity eventually, even if Police had not incorrectly provided him with a firearms licence. If that is the case, the banning of certain ammunition and forced sales of firearms was a political project completely disconnected from the terrorist and his actions.”
Dodd says the then-Minister of Police Stuart Nash stoked fears and attacked the licenced firearm community.

Preached unity while vilifying firearm owners

“Following the terrorist’s attack, this government preached unity but used comments to the media to vilify firearm owners. Their changes to gun laws have been nothing short of a political tool to reduce our community’s numbers and disrupt our sports and hobbies of choice.
“The findings of the Royal Commission confirm what firearms owners have long known: changes to the Arms Act would not have stopped Tarrant from committing his crime.”

Support for stiffer sentences.

As the frequency of criminals, invariably unlicensed, using illegal weapons to engage in shooting at police increases, there have been calls for stiffer sentencing for those involved.  Neville Dodd, president of Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand Inc [SSANZ] says Police appear to have no knowledge of who has illegal weapons, and shootings will continue until illegal ownership is under control.

“ It certainly seems that some people are able to get whatever weapon they wish, and get ammunition for those guns, while licensed gun owners rightly need to provide a firearms license to purchase a gun and or ammunition”.

National call for stiffer penalties

He welcomes the recent announcement from National Party leader Judith Collins who is calling for stiffer penalties for anyone who shoots or shoots at Police officers.

“That would be a great start, but frankly that is just that, a start. The Police won’t be able to control these shootings until they get on top of where the illegal weapons are and who owns them”.

He reflects that a Select Committee Inquiry into illegal firearms carried out in 2017 failed to carry out any new research into where and how criminals obtain their weapons.

New Zealand a Regional Smuggling Hub

Dodd suggests that more weapons are recovered by Police every year than those reported stolen, which he says, proves that contrary to Police statements, illegal arms are imported into New Zealand by gangs. “Police recently put out a Regional South Pacific report that claimed New Zealand was a regional hub for drug and gun smuggling, so surely that suggests that they, the Police, are losing the battle and apparently have no idea what to do next”.

He suggests that the Courts need to help the situation by imposing stiffer penalties for these offences. This is where the Government should have acted rather than targeting law abiding licensed firearms owners.

Government Must Wipe Out Illegal Gun Trade

In the meantime, Dodd suggests that the Police and the present Government have a duty to wipe out the illegal gun trade and protect the innocent public, and imposing tougher rules for law abiding licensed firearm owners will not achieve this.

“It is only a matter of time before innocent people get killed by a drive past shooting or are caught in the crossfire of a Police shooting”.

He says stiffer penalties will help, but stresses that peace loving New Zealand is fast becoming akin to a war zone, as there are now those who are so confident that they are safe from the authorities that they think they will get away with using weapons indiscriminately.

Police Arms Training Falls Short

“Before we consider should our Police now be armed full time for their own protection, we must take into account to what extent the current Police access to firearms has precipitated criminals arming themselves? We know that Police firearms training falls woefully short of the standard that should be expected, so it has the potential for more cases of Police shooting innocent members of the public. When it has been suggested in the past, there has been a huge outcry against arming Police from the public.”

Royal Commission Report is just the start.

The release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report that looked into why the Police granted a gun license to the man who then committed the massacre on March the 15th last year is just the start, according to the Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand [SSANZ].

President Neville Dodd says The Dept of Internal Affairs on behalf of the Commission says The Royal Commissions report has been written so that it can be published in full without the need for redaction to protect national security or privacy or confidentiality matters.We therefore question why the Minister is being so vague about the release date. What is concerning the Government so much that they are delaying the release of the report to ordinary New Zealanders?  

Dodd also says there are also many questions Police need to answer, for example why dont they know how many firearms are in New Zealand? They are given lists of firearm types and serial numbers for all firearms when they are imported.  This is a requirement imposed on firearms dealers.”  The dealers are required to notify the Police within 30 days of details, including serial numbers, of all firearms legally imported.

He also adds Police do keep records of all reported stolen firearms, but it seems they arent making the list available as they prefer to destroy any weapons involved in court cases.

On that subject, Police are required by law to inform insurance companies of any recovered stolen forearms, but we understand Police ceased that several years ago

Further to that, it seems that Police are destroying the stolen firearms that they recover instead of returning them to the rightful owners in an attempt to show the public and officials that they are taking a hard line on illegalguns.

Dodd says the Police clearly have a problem trying to account for illegally imported firearms.

We understand that more firearms are recovered every year than those reported as stolen. If so, that refutes claims by the Police Association and Police themselves that gangs and other undesirables rely on theft from Licensed Firearms Owners for their supply of illicit guns.It also points to there being an illegal importing pipeline in place for criminal gangs and Police are unable to put a stop to it.

Police recently put out a regional South Pacific report that claimed New Zealand was a regional hub for drug and gun smugglingsays Dodd, That suggests to everyone that they are losing the battle and have no idea what to do next

Licensed firearms owners are throwing their support behind ACT to get transparency over gun laws.

ACT is calling on the Government to release the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attacks next week.

Sporting Shooters Assn New Zealand [SSANZ] President, Neville Dodd, says “We understand that the report has been finished, so why are the Government looking to delay presenting it?”

It is understood that The Inquiries Act says the report must be presented to Parliament by the Internal Affairs Minister as soon as possible, so SSANZ are asking for an explanation for any delays.

“We are aware that recent shooting incidents involving non-licensed people have highlighted a desire for reform, but it is the lawful shooters who are being used as a scapegoat”

New Act MP Nicole McKee, says “After being targeted by the Government in the wake of 15 March, lawful firearms owners in particular deserve to see the report.”

She adds “Firearms reform must now start again based on the findings of the Royal Commission.”

SSANZ totally agrees with her, reiterating that the authorities and the Government should be targeting the people who are not law abiding, not the law-abiding ones.

“We are pleased to see that the Police are making progress within the ranks of groups who own illegal weapons, and hopefully stopping the black market sales of guns and ammunition, but that will take time” says Dodd.

Both SSANZ and ACT agree, the solution to the problem begins with the most open and transparent government telling us how 15 March happened.

2020 Election

Parliamentary Election – 2020 

Despite what you may think about the election result two good things for the firearm community has come about from the way you cast your votes.  SSANZ member and firearm advocate Nicole McKee now has a seat in parliament, and she is supported by ACT leader David Seymour and a caucus of 8  additional ACT MPs.

While ACT may not have a place on the government benches as we had hoped, a party of 10 MPs has a much stronger voice for asking hard questions and the ability to participate in Select Committees and other cross-party activities. As well as proposing sensible solutions to the many issues that face parliament in these post-Covid times.

What Does the Election Result Mean for Firearm Owners?

With Labour able to govern alone, with or without the Greens, there will be no reversal of the anti-firearm laws passed in June. And without NZ First in government, there will be no pressure to keep to the proposed Independent Authority to manage firearm administration. So what is on the statutes now will go-ahead for the next 3 years, bringing more pain and frustration to the firearm community as NZ Police come to grips with the monster they have created and implement the new rules and regulations.

We know there will be a second confiscation (buyback) of firearms declared prohibited in the most recent Arms Legislation Act. These include short semi-automatics, (those that were technically classed as pistols), Centrefire pump-action rifles with detachable magazines or magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and any firearm that contains a centre fire lower receiver.

However speculation about further types of firearms being banned is as far as we know simply speculation, we have seen no evidence to suggest that is on the cards. One might also argue that the government has more things to worry about now with the Covid recovery than contemplate more tinkering with the Arms Act. In the present financial climate, it might even be prudent to shelve the expense of a firearm registry, which we all know will, at great taxpayer cost, serve no practical purpose other than making the government feel good.

Where to from here?

All firearm owners need to put aside their political and personal differences and unite in preparation for election 2023. We need to get behind and support those MPs who have supported us and sign up for those organisations that advocate for us. COLFO is the largest of these organisations, representing all 12 major shooting associations and SSANZ is part of that Council.  While COLFO represents the vast majority of club shooters, SSANZ, while having many club members, seeks to represent all those shooters, some 200,000, who belong to no club and give them a voice. 

We need firearm dealers to actively support these organisations

We need firearm dealers to actively support these organisations and we in turn need to support our local dealers. We are all dependant upon each other for our long-term survival.

SSANZ Is working hard to engage with local firearm dealers around the country and recruit new members from the many hunters and firearm owners who enjoy their sport outside of a club environment.