Opinion by Stewart Hydes
Past and on-going changes to firearms laws and regulations badly miss the target resulting in largely only impacting on the law-abiding firearm owner.
Like all things within our society, the possession and ownership of firearms in New Zealand (indeed, in every country on our planet) has always been on a continuum .. from the seriously law-abiding .. to the seriously criminal.
At the extreme end of this .. New Zealand’s Police and government have failed to respond or been very slow to face the fact that some 15 or so firearms licence holders .. are gang members.
How can a patched gang member .. by definition .. be a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence? And yet our Police have allowed them to do so.
More recently, the lines of where things sit for people on the firearms possession and ownership continuum have been redrawn .. by the sometimes serious stupidity of processes and outcomes around our recent Firearms Law Reforms.
And perhaps more importantly .. by the short-sighted way the police and our government have gone about them.
The failure to follow our democratic due processes .. and make sure we had everyone’s buy-in .. on every step of the journey.
For these things are always a journey. Small arms have always been a legitimate part of the journey of humanity (beginning with clubs, spears, bow and arrows, knives) and they always will be.
They have also always been what we would call “misused”, by some .. and sadly that, too, will never change. It’s no different to the motor vehicle.
To use a firearm against another human being is certainly not always a bad thing. Consider, when the purpose or intent of the person using them is to prevent bad things being done by others. For example, when used by the Police against criminals .. by a law-abiding person in legitimate self-defence .. or against an enemy, in times of war.
New Zealand simply could not have remained the free country it has remained .. without the latter.
Many in today’s society tend to view firearms as evil .. but in reality, we owe them everything.
Norway showed us the way to conduct Firearms Law Reforms after a tragedy .. demonstrating excellence in the process they followed. Don’t rush it (it’s a situation that took decades to develop .. and it cannot be fixed overnight) .. take your time .. and most importantly, make sure you’ve got everybody on board .. especially, the buy-in of the legitimate and law-abiding Firearms Community (as best you humanly can).
Instead, our narcissistic Prime Minister simply had to be an overnight heroine.
On her watch, law-abiding firearm owners were trampled roughshod over the public’s long-fought and hard-won democratic due processes.
Rushed Law is often Bad Law .. and never have we seen a better example than following the mosque tragedy, significantly by an Australian citizen – not a New Zealander – and a person given the glaring irregularities in his firearm licence should never have been granted the right to buy and own firearms and ammunition. Never mind the reports that he was under surveillance by the Australian security authorities. The prime minister and government have never addressed the failure of police and the very arguable responsibility that they could have prevented the tragedy.
Police and the government ignored much advice from the legitimate and law-abiding firearms licence holders .. who only understand how the majority of legitimate gun ownership in this country works, better than anybody .. that’s all.
Worse still, they made the firearm-owning public feel like they were being made undeserving scapegoats .. discriminated against, even persecuted .. and therefore, alienated.
Undeniably, this has pushed tens of thousands of firearms in New Zealand underground .. inevitably, making New Zealand less safe .. not more so!
And all the while, they failed to target firearms in the hands of the wrong people.
Haven’t we seen the proof of this play out .. on our streets and in our communities .. ever since – with shooting in greater Auckland?
It’s ironic the first Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty by a criminal act involving a firearm for more than a decade .. was about the time law reforms supposed to make New Zealand safer, came into effect.
As if to punctuate the mistakes that were being made.
Police .. and even our short-sighted, impractical politicians (then police minister Stuart Nash being chief amongst them) .. surely must understand that, by now?
Notably, the “gun buybacks” were a categorical failure – as they always were going to be – based, as they were, on bad processes and bad laws.
The Firearms Register will be the next big mistake. As with overseas experience .. it will prove to be expensive, totally unwarranted, and utterly ineffective. Instead of targeting the real issues .. this will once again divert huge amounts of Police resources away from the true problems .. into administering a great big bureaucratic waste of time .. letting firearm crime blossom even more .. and making New Zealand even less safe).
The stupidity of it all .. is absolutely, unbelievably dumbfounding. Truly unfathomable.
When .. oh when .. will the people’s government get its senses back?
The rise .. and rise .. of the only political party that stood up in parliament for the rights of legitimate and law-abiding Firearms Licence Holders .. perhaps gives us a big clue?
Only when there is a change of government can we hope for a return of some common sense, it seems?
Perhaps that day cannot come fast enough .. for a fast-growing number of New Zealanders?
© Stuart Nash – former Minster of Police
The ability to use lethal force to collect food and protect oneself has been with us since the beginning of time. It is one of the reasons we still survive as living beings. Any authority / person who tries to deny people of this right does not understand human nature. Power corrupts, total power corrupts totally. Right now Parliament and the biggest gang in the country (our police force) have too much power. The use of firearms needs to be determined by responsible citizens, not an elite who think they deserve to rule. Government enquiries into firearms use have recommended this. Will our present governing elite hand over the responsibility for the safe use of firearms to firearms users. No, because they have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that they do not listen or act on the will of the people. Pride before a fall. It will take generations before many citizens start to trust government and any of its institutions, not just our MP’s and Police. I wish it were not so but that is the reality of politics in New Zealand today.
Government – not law abiding licensed firearm owners – stand accused of being accomplices to increasing firearm violence by almost without exception, gangs using illegal firearms. Why are the police and the police association president so blind to this?
Saddest part is that just as with other chronic and persistent problems (think children living in poverty/violence and housing) the govt has arguably made the situation worse. We all want things to get better yesterday but that is a pipe dream. The best way surely, is to get some kind of consensus by talking the issue through and finding common ground to produce sensible and durable solutions. We get the exact opposite – governance more or less by fiat, proclamation and legislation passed under urgency bypassing the very filters there to reach equitable solutions. You get what you reap and we are reaping a whirl wind of gun violence, child poverty and homelessness. Bugger.
Why cant even some of these hairbrained politicians making the laws think as clearly and logically as Stewart Hydes?
It is all very well and good to talk about the inability of the people in our current government to understand and affectively deal with issues but it will not achieve much because they are not willing to listen.
There is actually very little that politicians and government employees can do about crime, poverty, illness or other problems but they need to “be seen to” helping solve these problems in order to retain their privileged positions.
People in government have only 2 ways of addressing issues.
1. They make new rules and regulations to control what we can and cannot do.
2. They spend more of other people’s money to force those who pay to comply and to be seen to be dealing with the issues.
They also do a lot of self promotion and virtue signaling to convince the rest of the people that they are more capable and better than they really are and are making our lives better and safer for us.
Trying to control people with fear and punishing them for breaking rules they did not agree to does not work very well because most people resent being bullied and forced to do things against their will.
Engaging people in understanding and agreeing to behave in desired ways and actually helping them to do so tends to be more successful and much more cost effective.
Unfortunately, those who only know how to make more and more regulations and spend more and more of other people’s money do not seem to understand anything else.
This government culture of control and punishment comes from the small minority of people who are active and influential in the main political parties who choose, support and promote the politicians that the rest of the people are allowed to vote for.
There are not very many active and influential political party members and their main priority is getting their representative elected to serve them.
The culture, beliefs, prejudices and agendas of this small minority become those of the elected politicians and government employees.
Those who chose the politicians in this government are definitely prejudiced against firearms and believe that they should be banned.
Logical discussion will not convince them otherwise.
The only effective way to change the people and culture in our government is for more and more people to become active and influential members of the main political parties so that they can confront, expose and overcome the prejudice against them.
Those who are NOT INVOLVED in choosing the candidates in the elections do not get represented in the government.
Democracy is government of the people, for the people and by the people but it only works for the people who are involved in choosing who will understand and represent them properly if elected.
If more and more owners of firearms become more involved in the main political parties they will be better served by the politicians and employees of their government.
I couldn’t agree more with Charles Baycroft. When president of NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers, in annual reports I urged anglers to “go political”, join a political party, put forward remits, even become a nominee for an electorate, stand for local councils, get in where decisions are made.
I’ve often alluded to Forest and Bird and they way they infiltrated Parliament, even to the point of becoming Ministers of Conservation. Forest and Bird have infiltrated DOC, local bodies, political parties (especially Greens) and other places of influence.
But little has been sone. Most people are scared of being “political.” Hogwash! Politics is nothing more than cause and effect.