The Napier siege could have been prevented

The Napier siege could have been stopped before it started with more lenient gun laws. The Herald states:

A fourth man, civilian Leonard Holmwood, was also critically hurt when he bravely tackled Molenaar – his neighbour on Chaucer Rd – and tried unsuccessfully to wrestle the firearm away from him after the police were gunned down.

Good on Mr Holmwood! He must have been able to sneak up on Molenaar while he was focussed on shooting at the cops. Molenaar can’t have seen him until he was close for him to be able to “tackle” him.

But wait a minute, what if Mr Holmwood had a gun? He could have shot Molenaar before he even noticed him, ending the siege before it had begun.

It is impossible to make a law that will prevent people like Molenaar from having guns. There are too many in the country, and criminals by definition don’t obey the law. But we could make it easier for people like Mr Holmwood to have guns.

Something to seriously consider.

You don’t need a gun to be a dangerous psycopath

Following the shooting of 4 people in Napier by an man with 18 guns and no firearms licence, 60 minutes has managed to buy a gun without a licence, very easily.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. No-one knows how many guns are actually in NZ, but estimates are generally over a million. With only around 230,000 people holding gun licences, the reality is that many of these guns are owned by unlicenced people already. When you are talking those sorts of numbers, there are bound to be a few people willing to sell to an unlicenced buyer.

In the country at least, people don’t generally get a licence to buy a gun. They get a licence to buy ammunition for the guns they already have.

But is this really as bad as some sectors of the media might imply?

New Zealand’s violent crime rate is over double that of America, with Auckland having a comparable violent crime rate to Washington. But gun crime is only a small fraction of this. Because guns aren’t the problem.

Anything is a weapon. I have been working on the farm today, and as I write this am wearing a sheath knife on my belt. That is highly lethal (I kill sheep with it), but I can buy that wherever I like with no licence at all. And if I couldn’t buy it, I could easily make one with a chunk of steel and an angle grinder.

You can kill a lot more people with a car than a gun, and you don’t even need a driver’s licence to buy a car. Or you could use an axe, a machete, a kitchen knife, a chainsaw – the average home is a formidable arsenal of lethal weapons.

But despite being well armed we don’t all go around killing people – because we aren’t all violent nutcases.

Violent crime is not about the availability of weapons. It’s about what makes people violent nutcases.

We can only solve violent crime by addressing the causes of violence: family situations, drug addictions, mental health, violence in the media, and so on. We must empower parents to actually discipline children when they are young so the police don’t have to do it later.

There is a lot we can do. But restricting a few tools won’t do a thing.

Samuel Dennis shooting

If, like several others, you have ended up at my blog searching for information on the recent shooting of Emmanuel Bartuoh by Samuel Dennis, somewhere in the USA, I can happily assure you that you have found the wrong Samuel Dennis, and can find more information on the right one here. Much as I would like one, 9mm pistols are heavily restricted in NZ, so I have to make do with larger guns.

It is quite amusing the search terms people use to find my blog sometimes!

America, guns, and Campbell Live

According to Campbell Live, Americans are panic-buying guns in the wake of Obama’s election. Business is up over 400% in some stores. Obama campaigned in part on tightening America’s gun laws, so this is completely understandable. I’d probably be doing exactly the same if our laws were about to be tightened (still further) here.

But how does Campbell Live illustrate what this is about? Using a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, calling for more restrictions to stop such events because guns are bad. Well pardon me, I thought that shooting occurred because guns were restricted on campus so no-one was able to stop the shooter. Virginia Tech is the perfect illustration of why America should NOT be tightening the gun laws. There are so many guns in circulation there that the criminals have no trouble obtaining them, so restricting guns just leaves their law-abiding victims defenceless. In New Zealand, with far more restrictive laws than the USA, criminals have no problem obtaining high-powered weapons. Think how much easier it would be in America.

Look out world, arguably the most powerful man in the world is now a socialist. We can expect a lot to change in the next four years.

Only in New Zealand…

Only in New Zealand would you have armed police who can’t actually access their guns because they’re locked in the car and someone forgot the key… Utterly disgraceful, especially when the police lied about it afterwards to cover it up, and this could have directly contributed to Navtej Singh’s death.

Why were they locked in the car in the first place? If the police are going to have guns, they may as well be actually carrying them, if you’re challenged by an armed crook they won’t wait for you to fumble for the keys before shooting you.

The police can’t protect you from armed offenders. But just try defending yourself and you better look out, they’ll be down on you like a ton of bricks.

Hat tip: Big News

Should air rifles be restricted?

After the fatal shooting of police Sergeant Don Wilkinson, probably with a high-powered air rifle, Police Commissioner Howard Broad has stated that he will review the Arms Act. Currently air rifles can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18 (or 16 with a gun licence), even though some now are as powerful as hunting rifles. The fact that you cannot buy a .22 rifle or ammunition without a gun licence, but can buy an air rifle of equivalent power without one, is an inconsistency that is worth looking into.

But would tightening up the firearms regulations actually do any good? If air rifles were restricted, would Don Wilkinson be alive today? Probably not.

Pistols collected after Don Wilkinson shooting - NZ Herald 12/09/08

Pistols collected after Don Wilkinson shooting - NZ Herald 12/09/08

When police raided the house he was investigating, and a bank safe associated with it, they found three pistols and ammunition. Pistols are restricted class B weapons – you need a firearms licence, with a pistol endorsement (B endorsement), you must be a member of a pistol club and attend at least 12 meetings of the pistol club annually, you require a permit to procure from the police before you can buy one, and you can only take the pistol between your home, the club and a gun dealer. These are heavily restricted weapons, yet they had three of them.

These criminals had no difficulty aquiring weapons. Had air rifles been restricted, Sergeant Wilkinson would have been shot with something else.

Furthermore, the current law works both ways. The same law that allowed these criminals to buy their air rifle, allowed Christchurch dairy owner Nike to purchase the air pistol that he used to defend himself and his wife against two knife-wielding robbers last month. In this case, this same law could well have saved two lives. At the time, much of the public seemed to fully support his right to have an air pistol and defend himself, and criticised the Police for confiscating his pistol and saying he had acted inappropriately. Now, another high profile incident one month later could persuade the same people to want to change the law that allowed him to do this.

We must remember the full facts, and not jump to a hasty conclusion from any one incident, however regrettable.

To prevent this happening in future, there are three main things we can do:

  • Strengthen families, reducing the number of wayward youth that are attracted into gangs and drugs in the first place.
  • Focus police resources on conquering the P epidemic, which is behind this shooting.
  • Equip police with the tools they need to do their jobs. If Sergeant Wilkinson had been armed himself, he may not have died.

But tightening up the regulations too far (beyond the possibly logical step of putting rifles of the same power under the same regulations for consistency) will not harm the gangs at all – they are already capable of obtaining restricted weapons. There are hundreds of thousands of guns in the country already, a large proportion of which are owned by unlicenced owners – I am not saying that is ok, it is just the reality. Tightening up the regulations would however reduce the ability of people such as dairy owners to defend themselves, and therefore play into the hands of the gangs.

Tightening the regulations in this way would be a feel-good but completely useless act, similar to merging the MOT with the Police in the past, banning gang patches, and the current proposal to merge the Serious Fraud Office with the police. We need to focus on real solutions, rather than political meddling.

Check out the Family Party official response to this incident, written by Richard Lewis, a former South Auckland police sergeant and the leader of the Family Party.

Police officer killed in Mangere

A plain clothes police officer was shot dead in Mangere early this morning. This is a tragic incident. There has been a lot of discussion of what we should do about it over at Kiwiblog.

There are two main points to take from this:

  • If the police officer had been armed, he may have been able to defend himself and we might not be reading these headlines this morning. Should plainclothes officers in covert operations against drugs like this be armed? This is something well worth considering.
  • Arming the officer would not have stopped the crime occurring – we would instead be waking up to news of a shootout in Mangere, possibly still with a dead cop, possibly with a dead criminal, possibly just with injuries on both sides. Although this would have been better as the cop would have more chance of surviving it doesn’t solve the real problem – why the crime occurred in the first place.

To stop crimes like this occurring we must first stop people feeling a need to get into crime in the first place. Many criminals come from broken families, raised without a father as a male role model they seek out gangs for solidarity and for role models to look up to. It is downhill from there on.

We must support families, promote marriage (a commitment which in general results in more stable families than defacto relationships), allow parents to discipline their children effectively, and demand accountability from fathers towards their children. But Labour has been doing exactly the opposite to this over the past 9 years.

Only by tackling the root issues behind crime will we ever solve this dreadful problem. I sympathise deeply with the family of this cop. He is the 28th cop killed on duty here since 1890, his family join a long line of families in the same situation. We must have the guts to break through the PC wishywashy rubbishy policies of Labour and actually prevent this occurring in future.


Family Party press release.

Police get tasers

The police will be issued tasers. This is a controversial move but is a good one overall.

We live in an increasingly violent society. Despite what you might think from the movies, New Zealand’s overall violent crime rate is over twice that of the USA, and Auckland’s violent crime rate is comparable to that of American cities such as Washington DC.*

Police are confronted with violent offenders on our streets. They need to be able to protect themselves and everyone else.

At present they can use a baton, pepper spray, or a gun. In an extremely violent situation, they will be forced to shoot an offender. Police are reluctant to shoot anyone in NZ because the media generally comes down like a ton of bricks on that however well justified, and whatever harm the police may have prevented by shooting an offender will be ignored in the hysteria over the fact that a policeman actually shot someone.

With tasers they have a non-lethal option they can resort to, where pepper spray is not effective enough but a gun is unnecessary. This should reduce the number of people who are shot by police.

Many people have serious concerns about tasers. Some people have reportedly died after being tasered. This is unfortunate, and needs to be considered when they are used. However you have a much higher chance of surviving being tasered than you have of surviving being shot. Despite their flaws they do have their place in law enforcement.

Other people are concerned they will be overused by police. It is difficult to define overuse, as for some people even being used once would be considered overuse, but this is a valid concern too. They will be used more often than pistols are used, because as they are (generally) non-lethal police will be less hesitant to use them than they currently are to use a firearm, for the reasons outlined above. This may act as a deterrant to criminals and reduce overall crime rates, so will not necessarily be a bad thing. However often they are used, someone will be able to use the figures to say this is overuse and someone else will be able to say they are not using them enough. “Overuse” is a matter of perception.

If we are concerned the police may not use weapons appropriately, we cannot approach this by not giving them weapons just in case they use them. We must instead ensure they are trained appropriately in their use, and if there are problems with police misconduct we must confront these directly, rather than endangering the lives of all police officers and the public because of the alleged misconduct of a few individuals.

It is also important that the taser is not issued instead of firearms, but in addition to them. Police will confront armed offenders sometimes (we have a high rate of gun ownership and it is easy for criminals to obtain weapons), and need the tools to deal with this. Tasers are short-range weapons. If a policeman is encountered by a criminal with a shotgun he needs something more effective at his disposal than a taser. The taser can complement firearms, but not replace them.

Tasers, pepperspray and firearms are all last resort tools to stop criminals in the act of committing crimes. In order to actually reduce crime rates we must do much more than just issue tasers. We need to look at the root causes of crime – which often comes back to the family. Children from broken families, especially when the father is absent, are much more likely to get into crime than children raised by both parents. We need to strengthen families, and stop crimes from occurring in the first place, as well as providing police with the tools to deal with crime as it is occuring.

Unfortunately recent laws around discipline (the s59 amendment makes both smacking and physical restraint for punishment, such as a “naughty mat”, illegal) are likely to decrease discipline in the home, increasing crime rates in the future. We must support families, rather than undermining them, if we wish to change our escalating crime rates.

Our Law and Order and Family policies would do just this, confronting both the causes of crime and the crime itself.

And if you are still worried about tasers – don’t break the law!

* “Gun Shy” – Investigate Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 77, June 2007, p42-49

Violent crime rates 2005:

  • USA: 469.2 offences per 100,000 population
  • New Zealand: 1,180 offences per 100,000 population.
  • Washington DC: 1,459 / 100,000
  • Auckland: 1,236 / 100,000
  • Counties Manukau police district: 1,621 / 100,000