Over my dead body!
Another week, another outrage from firearms owners around the country.
Again, like I have talked about previously, for some reason, some people seem to only want to do the bare minimum required (i.e. the least cost) when it comes to storing firearms, and the mere suggestion that the police may be wanting to increase the robustness of the policy and procedure surrounding security become an affront to our personal liberties.
Recently, we have had a bit of an uproar around the country, as the police have started to try and get rid of the dubious quality, cheaply made (and sold) safes coming into the country for E Category storage. Around the same time, we had a large collection of firearms stolen in what is considered to be ‘acceptable’ amounts of security. But I digress.
Essentially, they have tried to increase the requirements for the certification of the safes – requiring an ‘accredited’ certifier, and even going as so far as starting up a list of acceptable solutions – by brand and model.
The regulations have stayed the same.
The regulations have stayed the same. What the police are trying to do is increase adherence to those regulations and clear up the potential for individual interpretation of the safes to be ‘wrong’.
Where an engineer’s opinion that it was compliant was once enough, the police now require definitive documentation of the testing done to a benchmark standard including a certified locksmiths report.
I personally always struggled with this. An engineer’s opinion? What qualifies an engineer to have an opinion on the construction of a safe? We have engineers here – ‘qualified ones’ – that really, fairly, would have no idea when it came to safes, hinges, locks or the like. Much like no every ‘mechanic’ is qualified to pass opinion on the state of a motorbike or heavy vehicle, it seems fair to require someone to have already shown competence in regards to the specific area they are passing opinion on.
All they are really doing is ensuring compliance to existing, established, and commonly accepted requirements. By commonly accepted, I mean, that for a long time, we have all been fine with the notion of a 6mm steel safe.
Approvals were made by Police based on the suppliers certification stating they ‘met or exceded’ the requirements, as Police are not engineers or locksmiths. Now, in many cases these certificates were inaccurate, false, or just wrong and in most cases, had not actually been inspected or tested.
What has happened, is that the Police have realised how they have been doing it hasn’t been up to acceptable standard, and have made changes in order to try and rectify this issue. It seems to be the fact they are also doing this retrospectively that is really getting up people’s noses. Someone, having gotten the deal of a lifetime through trademe (come-on, you knew it was too cheap to be true), not really asking too much about that vague looking certificate (we know we need a certificate – some piece of paper at least) – now have to face the fact that the safe was never up to spec. They were willing sold something by someone that wasn’t up to spec. Which brings us to the people selling these safes all this time.
Where are the suppliers in all of this?
Well, that depends. If they have safes that they know are going to be of acceptable quality, the smart ones have already submitted the information to the Police. Good business!
Those who sell less that ideal safes, well, generally laying low.
However, remember folks, the onus is also on them to ensure that the product they sell is fit for market. Instead of taking potshots at the Police on social media – why isn’t everyone focusing their efforts on the importers/distributors/manufacturers and asking them to rectify the situation?
I know of at least one person, who, having purchased a cheap safe (yes, too cheap to be real) that was subsequently ‘failed’ by the police, went back and got a refund. That is, after persisting through the company moving, changing names and finally being threated with legal action around the consumer guarantees act.
I have also noted that the E Cat safes have all disappeared off TradeMe and the one shop locally that was known to sell super cheap safes.
The Lawyers Opinion
Pistol NZ, in order to, ah, clarify matters? Commissoned Barrister Nicholas Taylor to provide a ‘Legal Opinion’ on the subject. That is, with his experience (and perspective on the matter) to provide his personal opinion on what is happening at the moment.
Ken from NZAR15 givses us a great summary –
The key-points Nicholas makes are:
Conclusions/Summary in regards to security for pistols, restricted weapons and MSSA’s
1.) An engineer’s certificate in regards to a safe is not a legal requirement.
2.) A safe does not need to be made of 6 mm steel or any particular thickness at all; it needs to be “sound”.
3.) A safe or steel cabinet needs to be objectively of sound construction”.
4.) It does not need to have 5 lever locks (this is not specified in law).
5.) Any member of police (eg. a local constable) can approve an individual safe (or generally). They can not refuse this request as it would be a breach of statutory duty. It does not have to be a Police Arms Officer,
6.) The Police cannot refuse to issue/renew a firearms licence or endorsement on the basis that they believe that a safe or steel cabinet is not up to their defined standard – only ifyou are not a fit and proper person.
7.) The word “in a particular case” used in regulation 28 (c) means an assessment made on a case-by-case basis (ie. each steel safe or cabinet~is inspected as to its “soundness” and cannot be bound by any particular policy.
8.) The police are placing all the emphasis on the requirements for the word “generally” in regulation 28, which still needs to be reasonable and have both a factual and logical basis.
My concern is, though; are we encouraging people to wave this opinion at police and have an argument about the legality of the whole thing?
I can see that working out real well for folks. Instead of working with the police, let us argue that we don’t even need the 6mm steel anymore.
Furthermore, next time an Arms Officer comes round and requests to check out the security on your A Cat firearms – try rolling out this –
Other considerations on “A Category” or standard firearms
1.) There is no lawful mechanism or lawful right for the police to inspect your “A category” firearms or storage at all at any time.
2.) It is a condition of your licence that you must, as a fit and proper person, comply with the security provisions outlined (Regulation 19). Regulation 29 does not apply to “A category firearms. There is no such thing legally as the police “doing an audit” or “doing a security inspection for renewal of a firearms licence” at all.
3.) No police approval is required for “A category” security at all, and so they do not have the legal ability to prescribe what is or is not acceptable under the Act.
4.) The police have no legal right to photograph your guns or security at any time during an “inspection” or licence renewal process at all, only upon the execution of a valid search warrant or warrant less search under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012. lf they say that they are going to do this or ask to do this then ask them this question “under which statutory enactment are you requiring me to do that?”
5.) The police have no legal right to record serial numbers and details of standard (“A category”) firearms.
6.) If this has already been done to you, write immediately to them asking for all photos and records taken to be destroyed in 7 days.
Will this help develop a great working relationship with your local Arms Officer (who, by the way, is just trying to do their ‘job’)?
Working with, or against the police?
A lot of this seems to hinge on a simple assumption or premises by those opposing the ‘increasing enforcement’ by the police – that is, the notion that the Police are actively trying to reduce our access to, and ultimately outlaw all firearms in New Zealand.
This conspiracy goes even further – in the belief that we have several senior police members, recently from the UK, who have a strong anti-gun agenda going on ((does anyone know this officers name? I will happily contact him and ask)).
Well, this may be the case. Though it does start to sound like a paranoid conspiracy.
The police are trying to do their job. That is, ensure the firearms staying in the hands of the ‘fit and proper’.
What happens now?
New laws. I am picking.
If we are not prepared to work with the police on ‘good faith’ – then we will see a push for new laws to seal up these gaps that the police have acknowledged exist at the moment. However, I would pick, that while they are at it, they will try and push to make the laws overreaching, to ensure they have the power to enforce all sorts of things, should they need to.
In fact, what is happening now, really sets us up for a total overhaul of the firearms laws in NZ.
Unfortunately, those vocal ‘defenders of gun rights’ are likely to provide an unbalanced view of gun owners on the whole to the general public, and, like it or lump it, the general public, with the majority vote, are likely to be the ones who push for even more stringent gun laws, should the question arise.
Of course, this is all just my own, totally unqualified opinion.