“The Government’s claim of closing a ‘loophole’ for the prosecution of drive-by shootings doesn’t ring true, and as is often the case with Labour seems to be a case of spin over substance,” says ACT’s Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“Yesterday Police Minister Chris Hipkins claimed to close “a loophole in the law” preventing prosecutions of drive-by shootings with proposed amendments to the Crimes Act. However, the ‘loophole’ is already covered by the Arms Act.
“The Government should toughen up the penalties within the Arms Act and start enforcing that instead.
“s48 of the Arms Act says it is an offence to discharge a firearm "in or near a dwellinghouse or a public place as to (a) endanger property; or (b) endanger, annoy, or frighten any person.” s53 of the same act pertains to careless use of firearms and would also carry a three year prison sentence for any discharge of a firearm that could endanger the life of someone.
“Instead of changing s308 of the Crimes Act, which relates to ‘intent’, the Government should instead increase the penalties within the Arms Act so that any gang member who commits a drive-by shooting will be locked up immediately.
“Drive-by shootings are a blight on our society and ACT supports increasing the penalties for those committing them. However, the Government is being misleading with their claim of closing a ‘loophole’, they just haven’t been using the existing laws.
“Justice Minister Kiritapu Allan said yesterday “What we don't want to be is a Government of rhetoric. We are a Government that's focused on outcomes." By mischaracterising the law to make it look like it’s fixing a “loophole”, Labour is already failing to match this modest ambition.
“Labour’s soft on crime approach over the past few years has seen gangs become emboldened and more violent gun crime on our streets.
“The Government needs to be getting tougher on gangs but New Zealanders need substance rather than spin if the public is to have any faith.”