High-profile firearms callouts in Northland caused understandable "anxieties" but there hadn't been an increase in gun crime, police say.
And according to Man Up programme co-ordinator and former gang leader, Jay Hepi, the antidote is to eliminate methamphetamine from communities.
Northland police district commander Superintendent Tony Hill said a community approach was needed to cure the unlawful gun culture.
He said the public needed to help efforts to curb unlawful gun use by reporting any suspicious activity or relevant information to police.
Hill said a recent cluster of gun-related crime in Northland was not symbolic of escalating firearm violence in the region.
On Sunday armed police, including a dog handler, cordoned off Dyer St in Raumanga and recovered a .22 calibre rifle from a property after reports of a man with a gun.
The next day a Northland man allegedly waved an air rifle after a crash on Oromahoe Rd, just off State Highway 10 south of Kerikeri, sometime after 6am.
Police released details this week of shots fired at a kidnap victim the night a firearm was pointed at an officer near Kerikeri on October 26.
Hill said he understood such incidents caused "anxieties in parts of our communities".
"There is an idea about the increase in unlawful gun usage because of the recent offences but that is not the case."
Illegal use of guns has slightly decreased in comparison to last year.
Data showed police attended 15 recorded misuse of regulated weapons/explosives callouts between October 2019 and September 2020. Most - eight - were in Whangārei.
This was down from 18 in the 12 months from October 2018. Whangārei again had the highest number of offences, with nine.
They could involve firing weapons at banned times or places, failing to secure firearms, carrying weapons irresponsibly or concealing them and possessing a weapon with intent to commit an offence.
Hepi wanted firearm crime to be constructively addressed.
"It's like the old cowboy days - it's the wild, wild west. It's all guns, which you can't downplay. There isn't a lot addressing guns - no workshops, no nothing."
He acknowledged the solution for educating troubled youth about firearms wasn't a simple one as guns could be an essential part of rural livelihoods for people such as farmers.
He said the most effective start would be to tackle the grip methamphetamine had on Northland.
"That is what is driving a lot of violence, lawlessness, and a lack of caring about pulling out a gun. It's fuelled by a high use of meth and the high availability of that drug in communities."
Northland District Health Board general manager for mental health and addiction services, Ian McKenzie, highlighted treatment options available to meth addicts in the region.
He said the Te Ara Oranga Model included a matrix of treatment options across Northland DHB mental health and addiction sites, includes six detox beds at detox unit Timatanga Hou based in Dargaville Hospital, the meth hard reduction police team in Whangārei, employment specialists, and whānau group work.
There was also Ngāti Hine Health Trust, he said, which has 12 beds and provided a residential 16-week programme in Waitangi for tangata 18 years and over with alcohol and or drug issues.