Police turning a blind eye?
There I was congratulating the Police for catching 500 firearms when I hear news that Gun researcher Philip Alpers (the same guy a Police Officer recently tried to discredit) has claimed that it is the Police’s fault that these guns have slipped in to the country, (very convenient that the Police tried to discredit him the week before this story came out). Alpers claims that it is the laxness of the Police in checking collectors and gun owners which has led NZ to have the second highest rate of firearms per capita in the world.
Police accused of turning blind eye
In the wake of a massive bust of illegal weapons, police are being accused of turning a blind eye to firearms owners.
Six people were arrested and more than 500 guns seized following raids on properties from Northland to Christchurch.
Police searched 55 properties to uncover the illegal weapons, some of which were allegedly imported and then sold for thousands of dollars on the black market.
It follows a four-month investigation into the illegal sale of firearms.
It is a problem police admit they never knew was so big and experts say they have barely scratched the surface.
Gun policy researcher Philip Alpers says police have been cosying up to apparently legitimate gun dealers and collectors for too long. He is not surprised by the seizure, just surprised it has taken this long.
"Up to now the police regarded these people to be so trustworthy that they could ring them up a week in advance and say 'hey I'd like to come over and have a look at your gun safe' - but that didn't catch many people who were doing something wrong," says Alpers.
New Zealand has the second highest rate of firearms per capita in the world.
Firearms laws were tightened after the Aramoana massacre that saw David Gray armed with more sophisticated weapons than the police.
But Alpers says our laws are still out of date.
"Almost every industrialised nation both licences its gun owners and registers every gun. Now New Zealand stands almost alone with the United States in not doing that," he says.
All military style semi-automatic weapons require a specific licence. But for anything less powerful it is the owner who is licensed, allowing them to keep as many guns as they like.
Some of the addresses raided on Wednesday had several hundred firearms.
Police are now investigating how firearms are being smuggled in.
"It's very, very unusual that these guns are smuggled in the country... virtually every gun found in crime came from a legal gun owner or a dealer," says Alpers
With firearms selling for up to 10 times their value on the black market, police say more arrests are likely.
Police now have to work through the evidence they have gathered and check all the firearms against police and importation records, which means weeks if not months of work.