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Firearms, Lies and the Police

Firearms, Lies and the Police

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today warned that three bills Parliament will attempt to push through in the pre-Christmas rush will frustrate frontline police.

Speaking at the AGM of the Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand, he said the bills have languished for years but will now show that Labour's political correctness overrules real concerns about crime and violence.

"Warnings by experienced police will be buried in a mudslide of feel good law if these bills are rushed through while people are distracted by Christmas good cheers.

"The Clean Slate bill tells people to lie about their criminal history. It makes $10,000-fine criminals of anyone who urges an offender to be honest about their past.

"The Clean Slate rules also impact on another bill to be jumped up the list. The Arms Amendment No. 2 bill has been stalled for two years because the Law and Order Select Committee of Parliament has found that firearm registration would be worse than useless in dealing with violent crime.

"Registration of guns has been a law and order disaster in Canada. In the UK, handgun crime is exploding after anti-gun laws took firearms off the law-abiding and of course left the criminals to carry on unimpeded.

"The connection between the Clean Slate bill and the Firearms Amendments is that the Clean Slate law may stop police asking a firearm license applicant about his criminal record. Police and legitimate firearm user groups have been proud of the vetting process under our current law. Now they will find they could be the criminals when they want to uncover the assaults or threats, if they are more than 7 years old, for which an applicant was convicted.

"Mr Hawkins has already breached the Official Information Act in delaying his responses when I have asked what changes he'll make to the Arms Amendment bill, and the evidence he is relying on. He had twenty days to reply and his refusal was nearly two months after my August request. He and his colleagues will think it's worth a telling off from the ombudsman if they can bring in the law changes quietly enough to avoid close scrutiny and public uproar. Under Parliament's rules even a huge amendment that completely changes a bill does not have to go back for fresh select committee consideration.

"The third bill is the Police Amendment No. 2. It confirms the politicisation of police Headquarters. Since modern policing began under Sir Robert Peel the constabulary were sworn to enforce the law independent of political direction. The Police Amendment takes the fixing of the commissioner's salary into the normal civil service process and makes it clear the commissioner must follow directions on police priorities, even if directions on individual cases are still out of bounds.

"ACT will do its best to ensure these bills are properly debated. But the sporting shooters, people concerned to ensure the normal moral sanctions for crime and the rewards of not offending can still work in society, must speak out," said Mr Franks.

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