Police respond to hundreds of firearm-related callouts in first six weeks of this year

In the first six weeks of this year police responded to 458 incidents across the country where a firearm was involved.

Three guns along with ammunition were found during the searches of Killer Bees linked properties. Source: NZ Police.

However, the real figure may be higher. 

Over the same period last year, the number of events coded as firearms offences totalled 519.

Between January 1 and February 7, the Police Air Support (Eagle) Unit Helicopter responded to 43 firearm-coded incidents in the Waitematā, Auckland City and Counties Manukau areas.

The figures come at a time where police and politicians are calling for change over crimes involving firearms.

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In January this year, Chris Cahill, president of the NZ Police Association, told 1 NEWS he wanted to see a firearms register established.

“That will allow us to know where firearms are and whether they're still there or whether they're being leaked into the criminal community from licensed firearms owners,” Cahill said at the time.

Yesterday, National MPs clashed in Parliament with Louise Hutchinson, who oversees media for the Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom, over the Firearms Prohibition Orders Amendment Bill headed by Pakuranga MP, Simeon Brown.

The Bill would give new powers for "police to make sure the most dangerous gang members don't have firearms, while not putting unnecessary restrictions on legal gun owners".

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The highest number of firearm-related events this year were recorded in the Canterbury Metropolitan region, (35), while Central Manawatū recorded 31 and Waitematā West 26.

In response to an OIA request from 1 NEWS, police said the figures did not provide a full picture of firearms-related offences as other coded events were not included. In other words, figures are in reality higher.

“It should also be pointed out that this data does not include other offences which might have included the presence of a firearm, for example, an event coded as an aggravated robbery in which a firearm was used,” a police spokesperson said.

Figures show that over the same period last year, the number of events coded as firearms offences totalled 519 but police said they were “unable to draw any significant conclusions” for the decrease.

In late February, police announced Operation Tauwhiro, a nationwide crackdown on guns held by gangs and organised crime groups.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said police will be aiming to investigate and disrupt the illegal supply of firearms which is "enabling firearms violence".

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Chris Cahill says police need to get the firearms out of the hands of gang members. Source: Breakfast

It follows a second banned gun buyback scheme that began at the start of February, as police collect further firearms and parts that were banned under last year's new gun laws.

An audit of the first gun buyback scheme found police managed it effectively and compensation was appropriate, but compliance was difficult to measure due to a lack of data.

National’s police spokesperson Simeon Brown criticised the buyback, saying there should be more emphasis on cracking down on gangs.

He told 1 NEWS the latest firearm-related figures released show numbers in Counties Manukau have only increased.

“We are not seeing numbers decrease overall,” he said.

“There’s always going to be variances year-to-year but what we have seen from the Government is taking guns off law-abiding citizens and what we now need to do is tackle the violence we’ve seen from gangs.

“The reality is the Government promised 700 of their 1800 new police officers would be focused on organised crime and gangs but it has only delivered 239 of those 700 positions so far.

“Operation Tauwhiro lacks the teeth it needs to tackle gang gun violence without the Government supporting my Bill to implement firearm prohibition orders, which will help take the guns off the gangs,” Brown said.