There is a "major problem" with illegal gun possession in New Zealand, says the Police Association.
The Law and Order select committee confirmed yesterday it would hold an inquiry into how, and from where, criminals were getting their hands on guns. The Police Association is backing the inquiry.
Police Minister Judith Collins called for the investigation, particularly in the wake of the shooting of four police officers in Kawerau last week.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor told Morning Report there had been poor policing of gun laws because it was a low priority due to funding constraints.
"We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg here... the select committee, as soon as they take the lid off this box they will be very surprised at what they see."
He said the problem was a '"slow burner", with the current situation a result of poor policy and poor implementation over many years.
"When the budget starts to get tight this is something that when you are attending rapes and murders and all the high profile (cases), child abuse, then when you come to allocating budgeting for basically policing the (firearms) Act, it is missed out each time," Mr O'Connor said.
There would be no overnight fix, he said.
Police Minister Judith Collins told Morning Report she wanted to find out how people without a firearms licence were able to get their hands on guns.
"Are they coming through shipments... of auto-parts which is one suggestion people have made to me. Are they all coming out of burglaries, are they coming out of ...online sales that aren't being properly dealt with. What is it, and is it a combination of all of them?"
Both Ms Collins and Mr O'Connor said legitimate gun owners were not the target of the inquiry.
Select committee member and New Zealand First MP Ron Mark said the inquiry needed to focus on what specific methods criminals were using to subvert the law and get their hands on guns.