“More resources for front line policing, targeting resources at criminal activities and not adding onerous burdens on law abiding rural firearms’ licence holders.”
Rachael Dean, RWNZ’s National Finance Chair, spoke at the Law and Order Select Committee on the illegal possession of firearms, on Wednesday 17 August to voice the concerns of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) members.
The illegal possession of firearms is an issue of immense importance to RWNZ members, many of whom are responsible licensed firearm owners and live in communities where firearms are an essential and everyday part of rural life.
“The ability to own a firearm in rural New Zealand is vital for farming purposes and for a range of other popular sporting and recreational pursuits including hunting, shooting and collecting,” said Rachael.
RWNZ feel strongly that better police enforcement of existing licencing controls, along with increased frontline police would be more effective in dealing with the issues of illegal possession of firearms. RWNZ think that at present there is a serious shortage of police in rural areas and believe this should be viewed as a primary cause of firearm thefts in rural communities. The focus should be on improving community safety and on the prevention of organised and firearm-related crime.
“New Zealand has a ratio of one constabulary police officer to every 515 people. Queensland which has a similar total population and rural-urban population split to New Zealand, has one to 423 people and would be a good ratio to aim for,” said Rachael.
The Law and Order Select Committee are considering a number of proposals including the introduction of a database to monitor all new firearms,and microchipping new firearms
RWNZ believe that in the case of microchipping, criminals would simply remove or damage the microchips. The main effect would be to redirect police resources away from front line policing, to developing a system that would increase costs to rural firearms’ owners, and is likely to be an ineffective barrier to firearm-related crime.