In politics everyone knows that if you have bad news to announce then you do it late on a Friday afternoon. And so it was when Poto Williams announced that Labour’s promised Independent Firearms Authority was not going to be independent and remain under the corrupting influence of the Police.

The press release itself contained numerous lies, which is all they can be called as there was not a skerrick of truth to them. Just one paragraph into the press release Poto Williams was telling lies:

The establishment of the new unit and changes to the arms regulatory system are aimed at improving public safety by stopping firearms falling into the wrong hands, and reducing the risk of anyone becoming victims of firearms crime,” Poto Williams said.

Poto Williams press release

None of the government’s much-vaunted firearms law changes has resulted in improved public safety. In fact, gun crime has exploded under this soft-on-crime government, with gang-related gun crime now seeing almost a shooting a day in Auckland. No new arms regulator – that is the same as the old regulator – is going to improve that. Neither will an arms register stop criminals from getting guns.

David Parker even bizarrely claimed that the reason the government was getting rid of the Three Strikes law was because of the explosion of gun crime that showed, apparently, that Three Strikes wasn’t working. Using that logic, these new changes to gun laws should be abandoned immediately and returned to the 1983 Act as they clearly have failed to protect people from gun crime.

Of more concern is the fact that the announcement is in direct contravention of previous announcements and also the recommendations of both the 1987 Thorp Report and the Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch massacre, that the new Firearms Authority be independent of Police.

Today, Nash released a raft of changes which he said were in response to concerns raised during the select committee process.

“The coalition government has further agreed to establish an independent entity to take over firearms licensing and administration”, he said, an idea that was proposed by Justice Sir Thomas Thorp in 1997 when he reviewed the firearms laws.

Radio NZ

And Poto Williams has directly lied to Parliament via Written Questions:

The announcement shows that this is not an independent authority. It is just a new organisation deliberately set up by Police in order to circumvent the intentions of the Thorp Report and the Commission of Inquiry and the government’s own feedback regarding the need for regulation to be separated from enforcement along the same lines as transport regulation and transport policing.

Shooters have yet again been betrayed by weak-kneed politicians who love grand headlines but fail to ever listen to the genuine concerns of licensed shooters. Shooters have lost confidence in Police, in COLFO, and in this government. They were warned that the proposed law changes would never work as the government intended, and this is proven on a daily basis with almost a shooting a day in Auckland.

Those shootings are invariably unlicensed criminals using illegally obtained firearms that are still outside of their much-vaunted regulation. If you can import hundreds of kilos of coke or meth then it is small beer to add firearms to the importation schema.

We at least know that the National Party has seen the error of their ways from the first changes to the Arms Act and have announced that the Firearms Authority should be independent:

The Government should make good on its promise and make the new firearms unit announced today independent of Police, says National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown.

“The firearms community was promised that this new unit would be independent from Police, but the Government has reneged.

“Even as recently as July, I received assurances from the Minister of Police in response to written questions that the Government was committed to an Independent Firearms Authority. The Police Minister must explain why she has backed down on this promise.

“Police have shown in recent years that they are not the right agency to be issuing firearms licences, administering the Arms Act and enforcing the law. We have seen this through the significant delays to firearms licence applications and the lack of resourcing being put into processing firearms licences. The average processing time for standard firearms licences granted in the past 12 months was 322 days for first-time applicants and 179 days for renewal applicants.

There are 237,087 firearms licence-holders and 398 licensed dealers in New Zealand who deserve better than this and will be feeling let down by a Police Minister who is out of her depth and removed from the reality of both frontline Police officers and the firearms community.

“National is committed to a truly Independent Firearms Authority which frees up our Police to focus on enforcing the law, cracking down on gangs and taking illegal guns off our streets.”

National Party press release

The Act Party has likewise called for the authority to be independent:

“Labour’s new firearms unit is a backdown on its promise to establish an independent authority,” says ACT’s Fair Firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“After 2019 Labour renamed the unit, did not accept responsibility for its failures and went after the law abiding firearm owners.

“It’s now effectively moving people around within the Police and giving them a new name.

“Labour has no regard for law abiding firearms users. It’s linking this unit to Operation Tauwhiro, treating licensed firearms owners like criminals.

“Police should be dealing with real crime and leave firearm regulations to an independent authority.

“The Police are behind on issuing licences and have overseen privacy breaches. It’s clear the Police are just not up to the task.

Act Party press release

There is now a real choice for licenced firearms owners. It is obvious that Labour and the Police are soft on actual criminals and are instead intent on victimising and criminalising the most vetted and approved voters in the country. National and Act are the only viable parties to support shooters, their previous missteps notwithstanding.

While I am covering this, any shooters organisation that welcomes these changes should be ashamed and dismissed as being unable to represent shooters across the country. Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand has contorted themselves into welcoming this. COLFO was even weaker, telling any remaining members that they were going to “keep a close eye” on developments. Those of us in the know will understand that what Michael Dowling and his puppets in COLFO mean is that they will nod deferentially to the minister and do her bidding. They are part of the problem, not the solution. There was zero acknowledgement of Dowling’s clear conflicts of interest when he was appointed to the government’s sham consultation committee.

The announcement shows that this sham authority was concocted by Police, to embed firearms control deeper into the Police so as to make it difficult to remove from their ever-expanding empire. Shooters lost confidence in Police a long time ago, and that was further eroded with their jack-booted actions during the pandemic. You will be hard-pressed to find any sensible shooter who has anything good to say about Police firearms enforcement despite literally years of positive interactions with local arms officers. That is now gone for good.

This announcement suffocates any remaining flicker of hope that Police will work constructively with firearms owners. They have shown themselves to be venal and self-serving when it comes to firearms.

The government firearms regulations and laws have been the failure they were predicted to be, and this latest change will be no different.

Sensible shooters should vote accordingly.

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Jacinda Has Lied, and People Have Died
Cam Slater

Cam Slater

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...