Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Stephen Franks - Fighting back is all that's left

Fighting back is all that's left

Stephen Franks Wednesday, 15 June 2005 Speeches - Crime & Justice

Speech to crime petition handover; Parliament House; Wednesday, 15 June 2005; 12pm.

When Kenneth Wang brought Mr Manchao Li’s letter to me I was working on my law amendments to restore New Zealanders’ rights of self defense. These rights were removed by National government law changes starting just over 20 years ago.

So I was delighted to help draft their petition. They told me it must protect, not threaten honest citizens. It must speak for those who try to deter crime and defend their families and their property.

They simply could not believe that the New Zealanders could allow themselves to be governed by rulers who not only can’t defend innocent citizens, but instead criminalise those who try to defend themselves and their property. “Where has the instinctive sense of right and wrong gone” they asked. “How can this happen in a democracy”.

I tried to explain the cowardice of the ruling clique, how Labour and the other parties despise the common sense of ordinary people. I said this cowardice was quite recent, but it was strong. I’d had members telling me they supported my amendments but could not risk pushing something like that themselves.

In better days our state did not dream of claiming a monopoly on the right to enforce the law. The right of Citizen's Arrest is written into the Crimes Act, to the embarrassment of the police who keep urging people never to use it.

You will have seen yesterday's newspaper headline “woman with a pipe knocks would-be robber senseless”. You will have also seen the sorry police criticism "in a situation like this anyone confronted by offenders should do what they say”. Nonsense! They should have said “good job” to the robber, and handed out medals, urging everyone to join in the fight next time.

Enforcing the law is a right and was, only a short time ago, a responsibility of every able-bodied person. It is time we challenged that smug judicial pronouncement "I can't allow you to take the law into your own hands".

It has always been in those hands. There has never been a time when there could be enough police to protect every New Zealander in this stretched-out land. The mutual trust and security that was part of our heritage did not come from having police to watch every scumbag. It came from decent and self-reliant families who knew they shared responsibility for upholding behaviour standards and the law in their communities.

Sir Robert Peel, who founded modern policing, was insistent that the police had no special privileges. They merely did full time what all citizens could and should do when necessary. Over the past two decades citizens’ arrest has been strongly discouraged. Our police have become instead a class privileged with special rights. Neither we nor they are better off for being expected to enforce the law alone.

Our law encouraged vigorous self defence throughout the period when safety from crime was our expectation.

It was not until 1974, for example, that bank staff ceased their annual revolver practices. Every teller was expected to know how to stop robberies with the revolver under the counter. Was New Zealand Dodge City in those day? No, bank robberies were almost unheard of.

So why are politicians who pretend to represent ordinary working people so hostile to self-defence? Why not trust the people with their ancient rights? Our crime figures were miles lower before they were removed?

Some argue that self help is more risky for the victims. No research bears that out. The real reason is a loopy theory that crime will get worse if we aggravate criminals.

Are our police less courageous? I don't believe that. But their timid leaders have knuckled under to stupid politicians.

That is why people in rural areas are getting fatuous police advice: “don't aggravate them, don't try to defend yourself, just call us or try to get away, don't take the law into your own hands etc” - notwithstanding the practical impossibility of police help arriving in time to stop criminals bent on mayhem.

So I am delighted to help receive this petition. I hope it will influence the MPs considering my amendments to the Arms Act tomorrow.

I call on Manchao Li to hand the petition to Kenneth Wang for delivery now.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election