NZ Police Association supports next phase of gun law reform
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Association President Chris Cahill says these latest initiatives will also have a tangible impact on the safety of police officers in their increasingly dangerous daily work, and for that, the association is extremely pleased.
“The government has paid close attention to many of the recommendations successive administrations have rejected over the last two decades - from the Thorp report way back in 1997 to the more recent 2016 select committee which had its recommendations gutted”, Mr Cahill said.
“For years we have been calling for a register of all firearms, and finally we have been heard.”
“Not having any idea of how many guns are in circulation in New Zealand, who has them, and whether they are securely stored, adds a real pressure to the work of our members,” he said.
“The value of a firearms register in the case of the Christchurch shootings would have been in the red flag raised by a licensed individual buying multiple firearms in a short period of time, as was the case with the accused shooter.”
“A register will also provide valuable intelligence on the number of firearms registered to an address, and this should help police officers turning up to volatile family harm incidents, which account for a huge percentage of an officer’s daily work.”
The association considers the breadth of the proposed reforms is comprehensive and well considered.
Secure and regularly checked firearms storage facilities should help mitigate firearms thefts from legal gun owners - the main source of illegal weapons throughout the country.
“Steps such as introducing five year licences and reviewing the rules around licensing of individual firearms owners, gun dealers and gun clubs, will go a long way to ensuring firearms are only in the hands of those who are fit to hold or sell them.”
The association also welcomes the introduction of new firearms offences and the signalling of higher penalties for breaching firearms law.
“Both these initiatives will address criticisms from some sectors that there is no real penalty for gang members and other individuals who are caught with stolen firearms, or who use guns in the course of crime,” Mr Cahill said.
“On the morning after the horrific March 15 mosque shootings Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand’s gun laws would change. I was asked if, less than 24 hours after the shootings, it was too soon to talk gun reform. My immediate reply was to applaud the Prime Minister’s pledge, and note that rather than kneejerk haste, major reforms were actually decades overdue. By the end of this year we, as a country, will be able to say we have finally done what was required of us,” Mr Cahill said.