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.”