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

 


Unfranked Unfranked 40 Shooting Looters?


Unfranked Unfranked 40 Shooting Looters?


By Stephen Franks


Have you been struck by the apparent helplessness of the authorities in Louisiana in the face of looters? Is it possible that looters could really have forced the abandonment of rescue efforts, including a fully operational hospital. The tragedy is made so much worse by such depravity.

I can’t imagine anything more shameful for the home of the brave and the land of the free.

What has happened to the descendants of the people De Tocquville considered uniquely equipped by community spirit to govern themselves without arming their rulers with martial powers? Why was lawlessness not nipped in the bud, given that police are armed? Is some legal deficiency causing paralysis?

It set me wondering. What would we do if New Zealanders went feral after a major natural disaster? As a proud Wellingtonian I do not want to face shame as well as grief if we get the big one in my lifetime. We must know that decency will not be sacrificed in an overwhelming emergency. Such times can strengthen a community, but only when they call out the best of behaviour, not the worst.

Scum will surface here too in a crisis. Already the price for crime is not enough to deter them. Our crime figures tell us there are more identified thugs among us than in previous generations of New Zealanders. It is irrelevant whether the proportions of naturally selfish have actually changed. They are obviously more ready to break the law. We have higher burglary and assault rates than the US. They will prey on neighbours disabled by tragedy unless they know that the law will prevail.

They must know that they will not get away with crime, no matter how busy the police are saving victims. If there is no practical way to arrest them, looters should know that they will be shot on sight. Lawlessness must be stopped while it is minor, before it converts to robbery and rape.

Could our authorities do that?

The Crimes Act does not authorise shooting to stop looting. Even the Police are only permitted to use lethal force to protect themselves or others, not property. I have been trying to reinstate a general right to use proportionate force to stop crime.

What about if a state of emergency is declared? It seems there is no adequate power. Many powers are conferred on emergency managers, but they all assume that people are obeying the law. Naivety gutted our rights of self-defence 25 years ago, when provocation was removed as a defence to assault.

The same naivety and politically correctness prevailed in 1987 when the time-honoured Riot Act was repealed. From what I can work out from materials I can access on the road, section 88 was removed from the Crimes Act with no thought that our forebears might have known more about human nature than us.

I’ve been interested in the Riot Act since being told in school in Taihape that an early mayor used it to stop a violent Saturday night riot. Railway construction and timber mills gave Taihape a ten to one male to female ratio. The Act’s principle was similar to that wonderful Quaker warning to burglars “Friend, I would not hurt thee for all the world, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot”.

I think I can remember Sir Geoffrey Palmer pontificating about antiquated law, and opining that modern authorities would never again need such draconian powers. Sounds like the Prime Minister’s just before 9/11, opining that we live in an incredibly benign world.

When the new Parliament is reconvened an early priority should be a thorough review of emergency management powers. It raises the same issues of principle as my campaign to restore self-defence rights (see www.act.org.nz/selfdefence_act.org.nz>

).

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news