Judith Collins backs firearms inquiry

Police Minister Judith Collins would support a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry. Photo / Getty Images
Police Minister Judith Collins would support a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry. Photo / Getty Images

The Minister of Police wants to see a focused approach on any inquiry into the availability of firearms.

Judith Collins made the comments after a cache of guns was found yesterday stashed in the ceiling of a South Auckland home, including 14 military-style guns, among them AK47s and M16s.

She said she would support a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry into the issue of how illegal firearms entered the country and indicated police also want the issue looked at.

Ms Collins said New Zealanders would like to know how gangs and violent offenders are getting hold of firearms. She said if there are any loopholes in the law, if there are any people involved in this area, then that's what we want to find out.

Meanwhile, police association president Greg O'Connor says politicians must wake up to the reality that more firearms are making their way into the country.

He said this week's shooting of police officers in the Bay of Plenty and the discovery of military-style firearms in Auckland were symptoms of a much larger problem and one police had been trying to communicate for some time.

"If any good can be said to have come from the Kawerau shooting of four police officers, it is that the public of New Zealand and, more importantly, the politicians are becoming aware of the extent of the firearms situation in our country," Mr O'Connor said.

"The association has for some time now been voicing the concerns of frontline police officers around the proliferation of firearms in the hands of offenders and calling for an inquiry into the reasons for that."

Politicians should be wary of "stop-gap measures", he said, which were unlikely to make a difference in the long term, "before we fully understand the reasons so many people in New Zealand who should never have access to firearms are in possession of these weapons.

"The onus falls on firearms users, owners and others in the firearms industry to support such a call before there is a more serious incident involving multiple deaths and which would necessitate just such an inquiry taking place, but in an emotionally and politically-charged environment," he said.

New Zealand's largest gun dealer says the cache of guns found stashed in the ceiling of a South Auckland home were almost certainly smuggled into the country illegally.

Gun City owner David Tipple said there was "no way" any of the 14 military-style guns, including AK47s and M16s, found by police during a major drug bust this week would have been brought into the country legally.

"I guarantee they won't have been bought legally. The format of the gun is a gun that is not able to be purchased by a standard firearms owner," he said.

"It'll be a criminal supply and who knows where the criminals get them from - most probably from having them smuggled them in."

The sale of hand guns and semi-automatic pistols were too tightly controlled to have been legitimate purchases, Mr Tipple said.

If the M16s found were real then they would have come from the United States as they were US Army issue, Mr Tipple said, but he added he doubted those found were the genuine article.

The guns were discovered stashed in the ceiling of a Takanini home in South Auckland as part of a bust which saw two other properties searched by police as well as several storage units where chemicals and equipment used in the manufacture of methamphetamine were found.

As a result of the bust, a 37-year-old man was due to appear in the Manukau District Court today on a range of serious charges after he was arrested at an Auckland inner-city apartment yesterday allegedly surrounded by $650,000 of drugs and cash.

"When our officers entered the apartment he's alleged to have had a 9mm handgun next to his bed, a plastic container filled with half a kilo of freshly-made methamphetamine worth as much as $500,000 and a bag with around $150 000 in cash," said the Organised Crime Group's detective senior sergeant Lloyd Schmid.

A few hours later detectives gained entry to an industrial warehouse connected to the man in Ash Rd, Wiri, where they found a heavily-fortified building.

A lab used to manufacture methamphetamine was found inside.

"The fact that we've found such an elaborate meth set-up, as well as so many guns, will have organised crime at its roots," Mr Schmid said.

- additional reporting Newstalk ZB, Tess Nichol

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 01 Oct 2016 01:19:42 Processing Time: 525ms