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Tougher gun law stance “barking up wrong tree”

Christchurch Mild Greens say that Government’s intention to increase sentences and “get tough” on gun offenders rings resoundly hollow.

It was shameful that proposed deterrent measures and arms registration plans failed to quantify and address the social context of criminal activity in New Zealand, said Blair Anderson and Kevin O’Connell.

“Have our law and order experts not learned from the USA experience of alcohol prohibition and Al Capone? - Have the best minds employed in administering the community good, not yet figured that prohibition policy might have something to do with nurturing the criminal underworld, proceeds of crime, antisocial behaviour, and associated trade and misuse of firearms?(1)

“How many body bags in the back-blocks result because someone was ripped off or a drug deal went wrong?” said Blair Anderson. “How many disaffected young men become home invaders because our sanctimonious society operates on the principle of mutual community disrespect and denigration of innocent cannabis users?”.

The Law and Order committee’s scrutiny of the previous government’s Arms Amendments bill in isolation from the social context is a neglect of public duty - and is only likely to provide tens of millions of dollars in administrative grifting, say the Mild Greens.

“PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK”, say O’Connell and Anderson, “...but it does create a nice little turnover for those who administer it, or get re-elected by being tough on crims.”

Parliament’s health select committee is conducting a long overdue inquiry into the most effective health promotion strategy for cannabis, with public submissions closing on February 7th 2001. But in focusing on health, MPs appear to be de-emphasising the unavoidable “law and disorder” implications of the status quo, say the Mild Greens.

It was contemptuous that the establishment in New Zealand continued to implement anomalous piecemeal interventions and investigations while ignoring the matrix of damage and dysfunction stemming from an inappropriate and unsustainable prohibition.

Kevin O’Connell said that it was becoming widely apparent that the discriminatory criminal status both impeded health promotion, and discredited rule of law - with an uncontrolled domestic black market on the order of 200,000 kilograms distributed every year - “a sure-fire recipe for chaos”.

It was an indictment of our supposedly civilised society that MPs were spending dozens of committee hours trying to work out a policy appeasement for gun control when the "real" law and order problem did not even rate a mention in terms of Government’s cannabis law review.

The Mild Greens were sceptical also of Justice Minister Phil Goff’s announcement last week that chief youth court Judge, David Carruthers, would be convening a Task Force on Youth Crime.

There is a serious problem with “conflict of interest”, in that agencies, officials and elected representatives are pretending to act in the public interest while actually milking the system, say the Mild Greens.

The legalise cannabis lobby has tried to awaken MP’s to the destructiveness of criminalisation, but few elected representatives have the courage to give truth a fair hearing, and even fewer will DO IT JUSTICE.

Blair Anderson, Kevin O'Connell ph 03 398 4065

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