Opinion: Government’s Firearm Law Handling Disastrous

By Teddy Roosterveldt

The aftermath of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack allegedly by an Australian gunman has been handled in a clumsy and cynically undemocratic way by government.

Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and her police minister, Napier MP Stuart Nash, are in the firing line – pun intended. Also deserving of the public’s wrath is NZ First and leader Winston Peters who could have stopped the indecently rushed anti-firearm legislation in its tracks.

Apart from the firearm issue was the totally dictatorial way in which the bill was forced through. The whole process was so “rushed” it defies credibility and lays waste the government’s integrity. There were 13,000 submissions and a select committee considered those in just three days so the public are asked to believe. It was totally undemocratic. NZ First should have put the brakes on the runaway bullet train and demanded that proper, democratic select committee process be adhered to. But it failed to do so. So much for Peters – reputedly a keen duck shooter and the likes of Ron Mark who has been a hunter and a firearm collector and others in the party, who could forget Rambo Jone’s holiday snaps from Thailand posing with an AR15 just days after his boss banned them.

Inexcusably, National went along with it, totally failing to perceive the anti-democratic measures and means. National MP Judith Collins in a select committee hearing berated a verbal submitter when her duty was to listen, not deliver tirades.

The only person who spoke out against this indecently rushed, anti-democratic process was David Seymour and I expect ACT will see their share of the vote increase substantially at the election because of their principled stand.

As for Stuart Nash, the MP for Napier has seen gang membership in Hawkes Bay soar by between 30 – 35 percent in the last two years. Instead of tackling rampant drug fuelled gang crime Nash and Adern have made criminals out of law abiding firearm owners rather than dealing with escalating gang growth. The police meanwhile have said they are unable to deal with the scale of the gang problem causing one blog poster to remark “When Police say something has gone beyond their ability to control then heads have to roll. Nash has proven he can’t fix it. In fact, if he has proved anything it is that he has made matters worse.”

The Hawkes Bay public are justifiably angry as shown by a packed meeting that demanded Nash do something worthwhile to halt the gang explosion. No wonder  people are so angry. In Taradale village, within Napier city, about 35 gang members indulged in a brawl with shots fired.

The gangs were armed, imagine my shock.  They are better armed now than before thanks to Adern and Nash ramming poorly focussed, ill-conceived law through, cheered on by the strident screeching of Police Association president Cahill who told the Herald the other day “the statistics paint a worrying picture about the sheer volume of firearms now circulating in the criminal underworld. That’s pretty scary.” Well thank you Sherlock, you and your bunch of muppets have just made this problem a whole lot worse destroying, in the process, the good will towards the police of up to a quarter million strong supporters of the police who now fear being treated as criminals for indulging their interests in lawful firearms ownership and the shooting sports.

The government and police have only themselves to blame for the public scepticism and the rapidly growing lack of confidence in government MPs and the police. 

Nash asks for community support, but he and others have caused the loss of community support. When the Mongrel Mob took over Te Mata Peak near Havelock North, the government and police helped organise traffic and meeting facilities!

Stuart Nash cannot blame “nine years of neglect” by the previous National government 2008-17 for the growth in gang members in his region during his term as Police minister and the dubious credit for a 12 strong police raid recently on a family man, Diewue de Boer, over a photograph of a lever action .22 rabbit rifle certainly belongs to him. Another public relations disaster for the bully boy plod to add to the growing list.

The role of police in giving the Australian Tarrant a firearm licence despite glaring deficiencies in his application must not be forgotten and it is to be hoped that the Royal Commission will place a heavy burden of responsibility on both the Police hierarchy and on Jacinda Ardern’s committee in 2018 for dismantling the licencing procedure which has worked so well for over twenty years as a cost cutting measure. 

The buck stops at the top, Prime Minister Adern, her hapless deputy Peters and her hopeless Police Minister Nash, and we must do all we can to ensure they are voted out come September.

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