Firearms Inquiry calling for submissions.

Parliament’s Law and Order select committee (of which I am a member) has today called for public submissions to its firearms inquiry.

This conversation should have been live since last year, when the Police Association started talking about their concerns over the increasing number of firearms that officers were finding in the hands of people who ought not to have them. In early November, I sent a letter to the Chairman of the Law and Order select committee requesting that we invite a number of informed stakeholders to brief the committee on the nature and scale of the problem. The government majority on the committee did not refuse the request, but nor did they agree to it.

The matter sat in limbo until the events in Kawerau in March, which could have very easily resulted in fatalities, brought the misuse of firearms back to centre stage. The need for an inquiry suddenly became ‘urgent’ and, after the usual flurry of media commentary, the select committee began the process of establishing that inquiry.

This is not, and ought not to be seen as, an exercise intended to unreasonably restrict the legal ownership and responsible use of firearms. There are many law-abiding New Zealanders who use guns for hunting, for sport, for pest control. Those people are not the problem.

The committee is also keeping an open mind as to what the ‘solutions’ might look like. The stories I’ve heard from various people engaged in the conversation and the research I’ve done since November do seem to indicate, however, that we can do much better in terms of policy and practice around gun control.

The process for obtaining a licence to own firearms appears sound, and there is provision for police to routinely check that licensed owners are securely storing their firearms. Nevertheless, early evidence suggests that there are an awful lot of ‘illegal’ firearms in circulation: some owned and used by people without the proper licensing but no no criminal intent, others owned and used by those intent on criminal offending.

It is also likely that some guns are being illegally imported into New Zealand, especially those military-style weapons that only a very few individuals can legally own. Many of the guns circulating illegally, though, will at some point have been bought and sold legally. These guns have since ‘leaked’ into the wrong hands: stolen, sold to friends, traded illegally. The committee will no doubt hear about a wide range of issues during the inquiry, but a clear part of its purpose is to to try and establish a better understanding of where things are going wrong and how these leaks can be plugged.

I’m looking forward to being involved in the work, and I look forward to hearing from a wide variety of stakeholders and members of the public. I hope, if you have an interest in these issues, you’ll come forward to share your thoughts and ideas with the committee.


2 Comments Posted

  1. Funding

    The lack of funding has helped NZ to get into this position of out of control firearm availability..

    Historically all guns in NZ required a permit to procure and a then permit to own. Both the gun and owner were recorded.

    Any gun had to be accounted for by the registered owner. Change of ownership went through the procedure of a prospective owner obtaining a permit to procure, a transaction with the existing owner then the prospective owner took the permit to procure and the firearm and presented them both at a police station within a stated time frame, for a physical examination of the firearm and other formal procedures before the permit to own that forearm was completed.

    No doubt checking was a lot harder without computers but records were kept and some centralisation organised.

    The problem was not that the odd gun went astray but that the police were so underfunded that the system of records became chaotic through lack of resource and overload in smaller country police stations.

    Rather than admit that the Govt pushed for licensing just the owner. and tracking and inspection of firearms was written off.

    Now a person with a firearms license may buy and sell at will with no records kept.

    Today if a person looses a gun they are not likely to report it as it may affect their future renewal of license.

    The police should have been funded to correct any inadequacies in their record systems years ago. Instead spin was used to hide the problem.

    And they wonder why there are stray firearms around.

    Govt neglect.

  2. The Police Association are VERY WISE to be CONCERNED on this issue!!! When i left home over 40 yrs ago and worked in forestry my friend had a pistol that we had a lot of fun with shooting in the forest. GOD only knows whats in NZ NOW??? NZs STUPID Import structure means a container of guns could easily arrive here and REALLY WHO WOULD KNOW??? A CORRUPT SOCIO ECONOMIC STRUCTURE only adds more and more STUPID YOUNG PEOPLE who see GUN VIOLENCE as GLORIFIED. They saw it on TV and SICKENING VIDEO GAMES!!! OOOOOPS Highly recommended! By my count after 10 yrs of Nationals LACK of ATTENTION to POVERTY–POOR FOOD–LACK of EDUCATION–TV VIOLENCE–You can add 100.000 FOOLISH 10yr olds coming into our Social Structure! At 10 victims each between 10 and 20 yrs thats ONE MILLION VICTIMS. IF these people GET GUNS to do their work then OOOOOPSE!!! TIME TO GET OUT OF TV LAND NZ!!!

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