Guns and gangs

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, February 28th, 2024 - 63 comments
Categories: act, law, law and "order", mark mitchell, national, same old national - Tags:

Keeping track of this Government’s policy preferences is giving me a sense of whiplash.

Over the past couple of days they yet again announced a crackdown on gangs. Patches will be banned in public, there will be the ability to issue dispersal notices and gang membership will be an aggravating feature in sentencing. The fact that the nature and extent of any connection between the offending and the offender’s participation in an organised criminal group is already an aggravating feature does not stop them from promising to make it one.

The gang patch ban is something they have been talking about for some time and last October they also announced that they would be banning gang insignia. Mark Mitchell also raised the possiblity of requiring gang members to wear makeup to cover facial tattoos, and to allow for warrantless search of gang members. I thought there could be an issue with this latter proposal. If Gang members are not wearing their patches how do the police know who they are allowed to search without warrant?

As I said previously when National was last in power they came up with a not dissimilar proposal which became the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Act 2013.

During the debate on the bill Andrew Little said this:

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill and to add my voice to those who say this is a complete waste of our time. This is a bill for the inadequate and, frankly, the flaccid, and the armchair toughies who sit back in the comfort of places like this to talk at length about the horror of the gangs without actually wanting to do anything meaningful about it. This will do nothing. This does nothing. It is cosmetic. It is literally cosmetic. It is about dealing with the outward appearance of a gang member. It does nothing about the underlying issues and realities of gangs.”

His comments are just as relevant now.

I am sure that if enacted the legislation will find its way before the courts where it would be argued that these restrictions were in breach of rights of freedom of expression and that the restrictions could not be justified in a free and democratic society.

Because the Courts have already looked at a similar issue and held that a similar attempt by Whanganui District Council was too wide and a breach of the right to Freedom of expression.  Like it or not freedom of expression affords considerable rights to be able to say and display what you want and like it or not gang patches are the same.  When the High Court looked at the issue it decided the scope was too wide. Legilsators have to show that the restriction is the least amount required in the circumstances.

We already have patch bans in hospitals and courts. If the Government wanted to be more circumspect then a Bill of Rights consistent law may be possible, even if it is still a ridiculous waste of time, but it will have to be more limited in scope.

But clearly National do not care about this. They do not want a nuanced discussion about how far freedom of expression should be protected. They just want some frothing at the mouth from their base.

And you can see this by how many times in the past 2 years they have announced a getting tough on gangs policy. How about June 2022, December 2022 when Luxon wanted to ban South Auckland garages, during the election campaign, straight after the election when Mark Mitchell talked about Gang members applying makeup as well as not wearing their patches, or Luxon in his speech in the Address in Reply debate?

Never has so much noise been made about a nonsense policy that will achieve absolutely nothing.

The sense of whiplash has been caused by the announcement this morning by Nicole McKee that the Government is reviewing gun laws with the view of allowing semi automatic weapons back into the country so they can be used by competitive shooters. Clearly allowing shooters to relive their glory days in the services shooting at people is more important than preventing another mass shooting event.

McKee has been talking about wanting to achieve a sensible way of ensuring public safety. It is a shame that such thinking does not apply when gangs are being considered.

63 comments on “Guns and gangs ”

  1. Mike the Lefty 1

    It all sounds like an update of Muldoon era "we'll take the bikes off the bikies…., only a lot more darkly sinister.

    People will look at the small picture, only the gangs getting what they deserve, without looking at the bigger picture of how far National are prepared to go to control human behaviour. Interesting stuff coming from three parties that claim to represent personal freedoms.

    Their classic defence will be, of course, if they aren't doing anything wrong then they don't need to be worried, which is a massive simplification of the problem.

    Some of those big bikie mobs that rumble around the streets actually look pretty threatening too, but because they are older mostly white men without mokos they probably won't be touched.

    PS: At least Muldoon had the guts to go out and meet the bikies he was legislating against.

    • Michael P 1.1

      "Some of those big bikie mobs that rumble around the streets actually look pretty threatening too, but because they are older mostly white men without mokos they probably won't be touched."

      ?? Which mobs are these. (some in the South Island maybe?) Because all of the main large / visible gangs and MC's in the North Island (the ones with name recognition such as Headhunters MC, Highway 61, Black Power, etc) that ride their motorcycles in large groups are only around 12% "white men" , with the other two main ethnicities being 75% Maori and 10% Pacific Islander.

      According to this document anyway, I didn't spend a whole lot of time deciding how accurate it is because it pretty much matches my own understanding in this regard.

      https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/library-research-papers/research-papers/new-zealand-gang-membership-a-snapshot-of-recent-trends/

      .

  2. SPC 2

    I've no problem with the banning of any gang patch associated with a foreign organisation and crime. We do not need 501's forming branches of their Oz gangs, nor those who act as affiliates for drug supply operations.

    Local gangs should be managed separately. Muldoon in that pre RB Act era of low unemployment gave them PEP work gang style – organising training and workforces (post flood/flood prevention/forestry/construction/home building factories etc).

    • Michael P 2.1

      What you think that they are any different from each other….really?

      In regards to your second paragraph, things have moved on and changed since back in those days for goodness sake. When my Dad was awarded a fellowship I won't say in what industry there were about 30 odd Patched Black Power members down the back of the function center performing a haka for him.

      Times have changed. Those original NZ teenage gangs like Headhunters, Black Power and Mongrel Mob are now fully fledged, trans national criminal organizations which, thank to the good old war on drugs and prohibition are raking in millions from the sale of drugs (mainly meth but their product range is ever expanding)

      My point being that work programs, jobs, etc don't mean jack sh*t to them.

      The ONLY way to diminish the power of gangs significantly and even have a hope of coming close to making them as close to insignificant as you can get (in crime terms) is to destroy their revenue (the vast majority of revenue).

      That means a complete change in approach. policy and laws surrounding drugs. There is NO OTHER WAY. Whilst there is demand for recreational drugs (and history tells us there always will be) amongst the population, there will be massive amounts of money to be made by organized crime. Because as we all know, prohibition makes money for criminals. Prohibition / Wars on drugs don't decrease demand and they don't affect supply, they just affect the price and the purity of the products.

      Prohibition doesn't work, it never has done for anything, anywhere in the history of civilization on this planet.

      The idiots in charge know all this yet they continue to tread the same path with astonishing levels of willful ignorance or blind stupidity

      This is one reason you cannot trust any single politician in regards to them saying they want the best outcomes for New Zealanders. They are full of shit! (except the small minority who believe in what's right and aren't afraid to say it in this regard)

      And wealth tax ! …

      • SPC 2.1.1

        I'd still differentiate – foreign crime gangs have no right to public patches. They should be in a sense simply "outlawed".

        Not all teens want to end up in a criminal gang – so there is a place for alternative training and PEP work in areas of higher unemployment.

        Sure gangs will seek to provide that not legally available – thus legal prostitution.

        Legal sale of low THC marijuana (low cost and medicinal) and legal possession for use of other marijuana (growing ones own legal) – making that a health (and or employment) issue – where it is one – is the way to go.

        That would allow lower legal consequences for supply of marijuana where police chose enforcement – which might mean a gang that restricted its activities to supply of this, ecstasy and cocaine (to adults) and did not get involved in property crime, violence or meth dealing would get a once over. Whereas others would get organised crime threat focus – and the 100% wealth tax.

  3. Barfly 3

    What do I need to do to become a competitive shooter?

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    National won't ban cigarette smoking, claiming a more nuanced approach is needed, but will ban patches, despite advice that a more nuanced approach is needed.

    Trying to extract rational explanations from the Government for its actions is a pointless exercise.

    If extinguishing a logo, "patch" or image is the aim, banning it strengthens its power; de-powering is done by trivialising the image, infantilising it, making it mundane, droll, ordinary – shift it from tapu to noa 🙂

    • Michael P 4.1

      It's perfectly rational. It gets their supporters literally salivating (get tough on crime !!) as well as providing distraction.

  5. Michael P 5

    "…Banning freedom of expression (gang patches) is like trying to deal with climate change by breaking all of the thermometers…"

    As much as I don't like gangs, it's pretty hard to argue with anything Jonathon Ayling is saying here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEkCEd0NVvU

  6. Macro 6

    Will they be banning the wearing of party rosettes at election time as well? What's good for one lot of gangs is good for another.

  7. Ad 7

    Dudes get a petrol Hilux, with a gun rack, an unregistered AR15, and cigarette in mouth.

    What could go wrong.

  8. Robert Guyton 8

    What're the definitions here?

    Gang?

    Criminal gang?

    Criminal?

    Patched member?

    Prospect?

    Tattoo?

    Moko?

    Colours?

    Hand gestures?

    Shouted slogans?

    Swaggering walk 🙂

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    A would be authoritarian policy. Historic NZ gangs like Mangu Kaha–Black Power, and Mighty Mongrel Mob are not international cartel business arms, they have been well embedded in provincial communities particularly for decades–like it or not Bal’heads. I sell stuff to them at Kaitaia Market on Saturdays and have a chat.

    Small towns can sometimes have only one or two plods available, good luck to them removing patches from a large group. But I note there was a mention made by Police Association President Chris Cahill today on RNZ that there may be a provision–gutless–to visit a gang member later at their home address to “snatch the patch”
    We have gangs because of the way we run our society–the bottom 50% with just 5% of the wealth. Leather clad career crims have been expertly taught by suit wearing 1%ers.

    Mercenary Mitchell may have bitten off more than the proverbial on this occasion. I will be supporting Gangs right to freedom of assembly, association, and speech on this. What next…bans on union badges, red flags, GreenPeace banners, Rainbow clothing?

  10. ianmac 10

    Someone reminded me of the Destiny Tamaki mob of motor bikers wearing Destiny regalia. Wonder how the Bishop will react?

    • Tiger Mountain 10.1

      Have asked a few people’s opinion on that, my guess is they will be exempt and wear their patches, just like paying taxes…a bit of to and fro there with Destiny…other people wear patches too like Veterans and Ulysses old guy bikers…

      Allegedly more than 100,000 people had signed a petition calling for the New Zealand Government to revoke Destiny Church's tax-free status, reports say that this petition was in response to Tamaki's remarks blaming gays for the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, and church co-founder Hannah Tamaki's purchase of a brand new Mercedes-Benz in mid-August 2017.[76]

      In early October 2017, the Department of Internal Affairs issued notice to remove two of Destiny Church's biggest charities, Destiny International Trust and Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings, of their charitable status. Destiny Church took immediate legal action and subsequently to date they still retain their charitable status with the Department of Internal Affairs.[77]

      In late October 2019, the High Court restored the charitable status of Destiny International Trust and Te Hāhi o Ngā Mātāmua Holdings. Destiny's lawyer Ron Mansfield confirmed that the two charities were complying with the law.[78]

      In February 2022, the Department of Internal Affairs delisted four Destiny-link charities for failing to file their annual returns by 31 December 2021.

  11. Ad 11

    I would like to see Anderson propose a specific numeric measure for gang numbers to come down to.

    And then hold National to account for it.

    That will be a first measure to see if these latest anti-gang measures actually work.

  12. Gosman 12

    I don't believe Competitive shooters shoot at other people. I believe they shoot at targets. Why do you object to people doing this?

    • Robert Guyton 12.1

      They're practising.

      • Gosman 12.1.1

        This is why legitimate firearm owners were so insensed at the law changes that the last government implemented. The VAST majority of firearm owners are law abiding people who either use their firearms to assist them in their jobs (e.g. farmers), provide a food source (e.g. hunters), or engage in recreation activity (e.g. Competitive shooters). However the anti-firearms brigade decided to denigrate them as being potentially dangerous and suggested that the activities they used their firearms for were somehow anti-social. Why do you feel the need to do that?

        • KJT 12.1.1.1

          Not at all.

          Where do you think the crims were getting their guns from?

          "Law abiding firearms owner"s who were able to sell their unregistered guns to however they like. It may be true it is a minority, just like speeding drivers who crash are a minority. However restrictions on both are well justified for public safety.

          Evidence shows that gun restrictions, of mass murder weapons,work!

          NACT, true to form are not interested in evidence, or public safety.

          • Gosman 12.1.1.1.1

            Do you have actual evidence that criminals were getting semi-automatic rifles from competition shooters or are you just making this up?

            • KJT 12.1.1.1.1.1

              There is ample evidence that crims were obtaining guns from "responsible licenced gun owners". Whether by theft or sale. I didn’t say from competive shooters. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/494168/escalated-gun-crime-expected-to-remain-a-problem-for-years-police ” in most cases, criminals were obtaining guns from licensed firearm owners, either by buying from them or stealing from them, Cahill said. However the new firearms register meant owners who did not secure their weapons properly could be held accountable.”

              And evidence the more repeating weapons, the higher the amount of gun deaths. https://www.vox.com/2015/8/27/9212725/australia-buyback
              https://www.jstor.org/stable/42705584

              • Gosman

                There will be greater restrictions placed on Competitive shooters around keeping semi-automatic rifles than we currently have in place. If there are issues with this group (not general firearm owners) giving weapons to criminials there should be evidence backing you up. Do you have such evidence or are you just trying to scaremonger?

                • KJT

                  The issue is the total amount of firearms, in NZ, as I've made clear. capable of shooting a lot of people in a short time. Strawmanning me doesn't change that, or the fact that we shouldn't water it down for "special cases" that don't actually need them.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  Whenever a Kiwi is put at risk by some semi-automatic rifle-wielding nut job, maybe a NAct MP will be on hand to confront the threat – maybe.

                  Who needs this higher rate of fire? God save NZ from this future past.

                  Does Teaching Kids to Shoot Guns Make Them Safer?
                  [30 May 2014]
                  “’Always treat every gun like it is loaded,’” Vanessa recited, “[and] ‘don't point your gun at anything that you’re not going to kill or destroy.’”

                  It’s a critical lesson because 7,391 American kids and teens under age 20 were hospitalized from firearm injuries in 2009, according to a Yale School of Medicine study. That means, on average, a child or teen is shot almost every hour.

                  Gun Safety Programs Do Not Prevent Children from Handling Firearms, Rutgers Study Finds [15 May 2018]
                  Firearm injuries are the third-leading cause of death for all children aged 1 to 17 and are responsible for thousands of children being treated for open wounds, fractures and brain and spinal injuries.

    • Incognito 12.2

      I believe you missed the mark by a long shot, as usual – you will never be a competitive commenter or debater.

      Semi-automatic weapons are pointless with target shooting.

      • Gosman 12.2.1

        Seems lots of competitive shooters around the World will disagree with you as evidenced by the extract from this article

        "The type of action is also an important consideration when choosing a rifle for competition shooting. The action refers to the mechanism that loads, fires, and ejects the cartridge. There are several types of actions, including bolt-action, semi-automatic, and lever-action, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. It's important to choose an action that is appropriate for the shooting discipline and that you are comfortable using."

        https://www.sako.global/article/choosing-the-right-rifle-for-competition-shooting

        • Robert Guyton 12.2.1.1

          That comment seems to mean nothing.

        • KJT 12.2.1.2

          Mind explaining how the speed you can fire lots of bullets affects the amount of skill required to hit a target.

          Note. I rather enjoyed competitive shooting in scouts many years ago. A bolt action 22 worked fine.

          • Gosman 12.2.1.2.1

            I have no idea because I am not a competition shooter. However people involved with competition shooting obviously do think it can provide some advantages to them. Have you ever thought of asking people involved with competition shooting? I know someone that might provide some helpful advice. She just happens to be the one responsible for the new legislation.

        • Incognito 12.2.1.3

          We’re not talking about competitive shooters around the World and their views on the pros & cons of semi-automatic weapons for target shooting, which, BTW, your quote didn’t not address either.

          Stop wasting people’s time here and lift your game.

      • joe90 12.2.2

        The three NRANZ full-bore classes limit magazines size / loading action.

        https://www.nranz.com/shooting/classes-of-shooting/

        O. Rifle: May be built around any manually loaded action designed to safely fire
        permitted cartridge

        https://www.nranz.com/assets/Rules/2020-08-17-Shooting-Rules-F-PR.pdf

        Matches are to be 2 convertible sighters and 5 shots for record on standard NRANZ targets.

        https://www.nranz.com/assets/Documents/Sporter-Hunter-Class.pdf

        May be built around any manually loaded action designed to safely fire either of the permitted cartridges

        https://e1e1515b-f062-426d-8b3c-6c508be9b8a2.filesusr.com/ugd/d54b0a_ce6a39bd3a424dd38bf11b3699f4bab8.pdf

      • Jimmy 12.2.3

        Actually Gosman is right Semi-Automatic firearms are used extensively for competitive shooting and was very popular in NZ.

        https://www.nssf.org/shooting/3-gun/

        • joe90 12.2.3.1

          and was very popular in NZ.

          You don't need a man-killer to play cowboys.

          https://www.pistolclub.org.nz/_files/ugd/cb6e8a_2bc4d2ea79b0451cba2fee080d451520.pdf

          • Jimmy 12.2.3.1.1

            Im not sure what you are trying to say?

            Pistol Carbines could be described as man-killers Im sure

            • Joe90 12.2.3.1.1.1

              <blockquote>Pistol Carbines could be described as man-killers</blockquote>

              Different league.

              A .223 calibre (5.56mm) bullet travels at 3 times the velocity of a 9mm bullet.

            • Scud 12.2.3.1.1.2

              This so-called Competition using Semi Auto's/ MSSA is basically what we called Training for Battle Shot, Combat Shooting & Close Quarter Battle Shooting in the Military & Police Service Shooting.

              There is no need for these Walt's (Cosplay) Muppets under a A Cat or even under the old E Cat Licences to do these shoots unless you are in the Military or in the NZ Police Service.

              My POV, Semi Auto's/ MSSA's should be under a Cat C Licence & Professional Hunters who use them for commercial hunting purposes.

              But I'm prepared to prepare to allow ex military & police to own Semi Auto's/ MSSA's provided they have done 5yrs effective service,

              Haven't been Medically Discharged,

              No convictions for 5yrs.

              Prepared to do at least 6 Live Fire Shoots a yr & maintain contact with the NZDF Reserves

              With a few other caveats.

              There is no need for Cat A Licence Holders to own Semi Auto's/ MSSA's & all MSSA's should be under place under a C Cat Licence no if's or buts.

        • Incognito 12.2.3.2

          If popularity is the point then they’re indeed pointless.

          Of course, Gosman is Right, but you have the same reading comprehensions skills as he has and are wasting our time here too.

          Both of you are triggering my Mod nerve.

  13. Who would be a cop having to enforce this policy? Many more off to Auss I guess.

  14. tsmithfield 14

    It appears that the gang patch ban was effective to at least some degree in Australia, even if it was just the psychological impact of the general public feeling safer.

    The Bill of Rights will be something the government has to work around. So, will be interesting to see how they do that.

    I think there will be major issues trying to enforce the ban. Perhaps the easiest way to do it would be to confiscate gang jackets and patches from gang members when they are convicted of a crime. That might fit in better with the Bill of Rights as well.

  15. Joe90 15

    2020 NRANZ full-bore national champions. Note the rifles.

  16. thinker 16

    So, next election, when NZF gets its branded bus and barnstorms the country with balloons and flags, and supporters wearing NZF t-shirts, will it be legal?

    Or the sausage sizzle at the local hardware store for the likes of the red cross?

    Pride festival?

    All Blacks fans at Eden Park with face paint?

    ANZAC Day parade marchers?

  17. Ffloyd 18

    Does NZF stand for NZ F…ed?

  18. cathyo 19

    that one about making gang members wear make-up was one of my all-time favourites

  19. cathyo 20

    boring, boring

    – Tough on crime (and gangs)

    – Tax Cuts

    – Build more roads

    – etc

    when will the nats think of something new?

  20. Georgecom 21

    Hello police how can we help?

    Some one has just held up my shop with a semiautomatic weapon

    Look I'm sorry but all police are too busy running around trying to take patches off gang members to respond.

    In the mean time why doesn't this government cut bureaucracy and red tape and make it easy for gangs to buy semiautomatic weapons direct rather than having to go through third parties like mckees changes will do.

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