Police Association welcomes new focus on illegal firearms in New Zealand
The New Zealand Police Association says Parliament’s Law and Order Select Committee is clearly serious about dealing with the illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand.
Association President Chris Cahill says today’s report, following ten months of submissions and deliberations, has produced some good, common sense recommendations which answer a number of concerns the Association has with the current situation.
“We are particularly pleased with the recommendation that the permit to procure a firearm be extended to cover the sale or transfer of all firearms,” Mr Cahill said.
The Committee noted that this process would provide details of firearms transactions to the Police, and over time, this information would build a database of firearms possessed by individuals.
“The Committee members have recognised that this permit regime would initially impose an administrative burden on buyers, sellers and the Police, but it is time to focus on the bigger picture. New Zealand needs to better monitor private sales of firearms and the majority of the country’s 242,000 licensed owners will agree with that. An online process for permits will eventually reduce the costs to all,” Mr Cahill said.
The Association applauds the tough stance recommended with respect to gangs.
“Anything that makes being a member of a gang less appealing, we’re happy with,” Mr Cahill said.
“Gang members and gang prospects are not fit and proper persons to possess firearms, and they demonstrate that every day of the week. We know of gang members who are licensed firearms carriers and currently there is nothing to stop them purchasing any number of weapons, and then distributing them amongst the gang,” he said.
The Committee decided against the creation of a firearms register, opting instead for a law change to require Police to record the serial numbers of firearms owned by licence holders when they renew their licences, or are subject to inspection of their premises.
“We are quite happy with that recommendation, particularly when it is combined with the recommendations to extend the powers of the Police to enter premises to inspect the security of “A” category firearms, and loss of licence as the penalty if storage regulations are not complied with. This will mean when Police carry out security checks they can at the same time, record serial numbers and add them to the Police registry,” Mr Cahill said.
“These are only a number of the recommendations, and they sit amongst many others that the Association believes will lead to a much better understanding of where firearms are across the country.”
However the Association is not happy with the Committee’s attitude to the rules and regulations surrounding the importation of firearms.
“There appears to be a glaring omission in the report when it comes to tightening up on the tens of thousands of firearms imported into New Zealand every year. We have to ask why on earth we need all these firearms, why we need MSSAs and pistols, and why is it acceptable to not know where many of these weapons end up,” Mr Cahill said.
The Association hopes the Government will take seriously the recommendations, and implement them as soon as possible.