28 Feb 2019

Fatal shootings: Police Assocation wants tighter gun control

10:30 am on 28 February 2019

Criminals in New Zealand are now "armed up" and police are reporting more incidents where firearms have been found, Police Association president Chris Cahill says.

A police cordon in Richmond, Christchurch, where a man was shot on Tuesday evening.

A police cordon in in Richmond, Christchurch, following the shooting. Photo: Katie Todd / RNZ

Mr Cahill told Morning Report that two incidents in a fortnight where police were shot at were high profile cases but there were many others where arms were involved.

"We had one just last week where an officer wrestled an offender out of a vehicle as he reached into a bag that was found to have two loaded sawn-off shotguns."

A 33-year-old Woolston resident is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after fleeing police and then becoming involved in a shoot out with them in a suburban street on Tuesday. Police suspect he was the same man who fired shots at officers in the suburb of Wainoni on Saturday morning.

Last week Astin Cruz Hooper was shot by police in an exchange of fire following a bank robbery in Kawerau and a police pursuit.

Though he provided no figures, Mr Cahill said Police Association members were sending in reports every week of finding people in possession of firearms.

"Go out and talk to any police officer, they'll tell you that criminals now are armed up.

"You've got the trifecta these days; you've got drugs, you've got gang members, you find a firearm - and that's right across New Zealand."

Police figures showed a firearm was presented at a police officer 17 times in 2017 and there were 4 incidents of officers being shot at.

Mr Cahill said there were many more where firearms were found, and police were only starting to record those in some districts.

"You've got to look at incidents where firearms are in possession of people because that can turn into dangerous incidents," he said.

The Police Association supports all police carrying arms, "but we'd really much rather that New Zealand was safe enough that that wasn't needed", Mr Cahill said.

He welcomed the boost in police numbers that included 700 officers who would target organised crime.

He said tighter gun control, a registry of guns and a better discussion on how many firearms are imported was needed.

The "outdated" Arms Act needed to be overhauled, but he said politicians were listening to lobbying from a small sector of the gun community.

"I speak to many licenced gun owners and they have no issue with a change to some of the regulations if it makes New Zealand safer."

The scene of the shooting in Christchurch.

The scene of the shooting in Richmond, Christchurch. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said yesterday shots had been fired at officers on Anzac Drive on two separate occasions on Saturday. Police conducted enquiries to find those involved and spotted the car they believed the shots had come from on Tuesday evening.

They gave chase and during the pursuit it appeared the driver deliberately drove towards an officer who was laying down road spikes, Mr Price said. The officer wasn't injured and the car was successfully spiked, coming to a stop on Eveleyn Couzins Avenue in Richmond.

Police said the man fired at them with what was believed to be a shotgun, they returned fire and the man was shot in the lower body.

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