New Zealand Labour Party

Growing gun use impetus for reforms

Another weekend, another shooting tragedy, another devastated family, another shocked community. Turn the page.

We are almost becoming desensitised to these sort of crimes now, but this certainly isn't the case if you are a front line police officer, unsure who has and who hasn't got a gun, or whether the next door you knock on will contain a hardened criminal with no fear or respect.  

In the last week we've seen a siege, the seizure of fourteen military assault-grade AK47s and M16s, a 26-year-old shot dead in Auckland, and on it goes.

It’s why I believe we need an investigation into the role of guns in society.

It won’t be a witch hunt. I get the feeling that the current licensing regime works – the majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens who follow the rules - and my concern is not with recreational hunters and sporting folk, but rather the criminal element of society.

I wouldn't want to pre-empt any inquiry recommendations. However, it is pretty obvious something needs to be done. Putting the spotlight on the prevalence of guns in our communities, and the role guns now play in criminal activity, is long overdue.

Police statistics show 1504 guns were confiscated in 2015-15, almost 500 more than in the previous year.  We need to know what’s behind that.

Police Minister Judith Collins and I are working together to find common ground on what form an inquiry will take and what the terms of reference will be. Labour is also prepared to assist with the implementation of recommendations that may come out of the inquiry.  

After all, I believe the public expect their politicians to work together to find solutions to difficult issues, especially those that impact upon the safety of our communities.

There is no room for playing politics when it comes to public safety.  On this issue we should all be on the same side.