A shooting club's decision to ban cops from using its training facility in protest against police attempts to tighten gun laws has alarmed the Police Association.
The Wairarapa Pistol and Shooting Sports Club has banned police officers from training at its range, saying members were frustrated with the police and association's stance on firearms in New Zealand.
Police have regularly used the club for firearms training over the years.
Club president Gary Rawlinson said the group did not want to be seen "supporting groups that could possibly destroy our chosen sport".
He told Fairfax that the police "continue to arbitrarily adopt changes to the administration of the Arms Acts without consultation" and that had led to increasing frustration among the club's members.
Rawlinson claimed that police attempts to restrict firearms availability meant law-abiding gun users like the club's members were "demonised, scapegoated and targeted".
He said recent changes including the certification of gun safes and alterations to gun-dealer licensing was "evidence of the ever-moving goal posts" firearms users had to comply with.
So, in protest, the club banned police from using its facilities, effective immediately.
"It should be of great concern to politicians and the police commissioner that our decision to end all police use of the Wairarapa PSSC facility gained unanimous support and has been applauded by many other shooting clubs," Rawlinson said.
"We're not trying to be vindictive or nasty. We're just annoyed that we are constantly looking over our shoulder because of the way they [police] do things."
Rawlinson said the ban would not be reviewed unless "a distinct change in attitude, policy and provision is evident".
He said firearms law reforms did not tackle the real problem - which was unlicensed criminals.
Rather, it targeted licensed firearms users.
He said he hoped the ban would to draw attention to the club's "dissatisfaction with the present situation".
Police Association president Chris Cahill said he was alarmed at the club's decision.
He said the association readily accepts that the vast majority of gun owners were law-abiding citizens.
"The aim is to control who has access to firearms, not penalise licensed firearms owners," Cahill explained.
"Like it or not, the reality is that criminals often acquire their guns from burglaries of legitimate gun owners and dealers, or guns are on-sold to people who have no intention of registering them and using them within legal parameters.
"On a daily basis our members are being confronted by criminals with guns.
"The results of a proliferation of firearms are very real for front-line police and the association believes that having a gun pointed in your face should not be seen as just part of the job."
Cahill said illegal firearms were regularly uncovered during routine searches of suspects, vehicles and buildings.
"This situation is a significant risk to police officers and to the public," he said.
Under the Arms Act (1983) a firearms licence allows the holder to have and use sporting-type shotguns and rifles.
Target shooting pistol club members have to have a ''B'' Endorsement attached to their firearms licences to possess and use pistols as a member of an incorporated pistol club on a range approved by the commissioner of police.
"With all dangerous things in society come rules and regulations that have to be enforced," said Cahill.
"A firearm is a lethal weapon and we do not see why firearms should be excluded from safeguards."
"While the club's president says they are 'not trying to be vindictive or nasty' in imposing an immediate ban, it certainly sounds vindictive when police are trying to ensure dangerous weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals."
Cahill said the ban was the first time the association had heard of any concerns or issues raised by the club.
"Perhaps it would have been more productive to at least approach me with the view to discuss the concerns rather than complicate the training programmes of Wairarapa police who use, and pay for, the club's facilities to ensure they are equipped to keep the community safe," Cahill said.