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New Police Firearms Regulatory Unit announced

An “Independent” unit?

In announcing a new Firearm Regulatory Unit “separate from, but still aligned to Police” Police Minister Hon. Poto Williams has reneged on a previous commitment by Labour to set up an Independent Firearm Authority to administer the Arms Act.

She went on to claim “This Government has a strong track record on tackling gun crime. Already we have prohibited the most dangerous firearms.”

As Neville Dodd, President of SSANZ points out, “The 60,000+ firearms confiscated by the government existed in the community for 28 years without a problem, that is until police failed in their duty to properly vet a foreign terrorist.

We therefore question why the regulation of the Arms Act is still being left with Police.
In SSANZ’ view it is very wrong for Police to be both the regulating authority and also the enforcement agency in dealing with firearms.

This represents a clear conflict of interest that would not be acceptable in most professional organisations.

Independence encourages trust

SSANZ welcomes the new planned Regulatory Unit but strongly believe it must be completely independent of police if it is to have the trust and confidence of the firearm community.

We will watch with interest as the new model is developed and trust that it will include local offices where customers can interact with real people, rather than a purely faceless web based operation.

We would like to see a substantial financial investment in the new Authority. Anyone who has recently been through either the licensing or re-licensing system will know that the current process is overwhelmed and under-resourced.

It is ridiculous that police are taking from 6 to 9 months for licence renewals. A strong focus from the government on investment in additional staff, systems, technology and other resources will be needed if the new Authority has any chance of succeeding where the current system has floundered.

We look forward to more information on the key performance indicators for the new Authority, particularly with regard to (1) improving application processing times, (2) making a real difference in reducing gun crime and (3) identifying the sources of gun crime and the supply chains of illegally-held weapons.

Steady increase in violence post “buyback”

Since over 60,000 firearms were confiscated from law abiding licensed firearm owners, more stringent regulations applied to lawful ownership and tougher penalties were introduced for gun crime, we have seen a steady increase in gun related violence perpetrated largely by gang members.

The question then:

So how have all these new laws made New Zealanders safer – a question which has also been asked by the Office of the Auditor General?

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.

 

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