Call in the military!
And we were doing so well!
It seems that Ministry of Health (MoH) staff managing the quarantine of incoming travellers have failed to follow the processes and procedures that have been laid down by their own organisation. Among their numerous guffaws was granting “compassionate leave” to two recent arrivals without first testing them for COVID-19. The pair traveled from Auckland to Wellington by car, a trip of approximately eight hours.
The day after their arrival in Wellington they were tested and the result two days later was positive. In the meantime they had come in contact directly and indirectly with more than 200 people, all of who must now be traced, and go into self isolation for two weeks.
This is just one of many errors, including allowing those in quarantine to take supervised walks outside the quarantine facilities where two metre distancing from the public was not observed, instances where new arrivals in quarantine were allowed to intermingle with those whose quarantine was about to expire, and the failure to perform the madatory two tests over the two weeks for all those in quarantine.
As a result of the very lacklustre performance of MoH staff, the Prime Minister has called in the defence force to manage the entire quarantine process. Given the number of anecdotal stories about poor quarantine management, I’m surprised that our defence forces weren’t called in weeks ago. This is an area of operation where the military should perform better than civil servants. Let’s hope so.
A Police shooting in Aotearoa
No, this isn’t a report of NZ police shooting a member of the public. It’s a report of members of the public shooting NZ police officers. This morning two police officers were shot while undertaking a routine traffic incident. One has since died. A passerby was run down and seriously injured by the offenders’ vehicle as they made their escape.
Such events are rare in Aotearoa New Zealand, and it does not alter my position on arming the police. Unfortunately, we will likely see some call for such action, as often happens after unfortunate events like this.
There’s a significant section of society that genuinely believes that the number of murders is increasing year by year, when the facts show a very different trend. In the 1970s there were 60 to 80 murders per year. In the last decade, that number is down to less than 40. Last year, 2019, is the outstanding exception where more people were murdered in the Christchurch mosque shooting than occurred throughout the rest of the year.
In the history of this nation, 33 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, The last occasion prior to today was eleven years ago. While that’s 33 too many, it’s about on par with the number of people killed by police, mainly after discharging a weapon at police or presenting a weapon with an apparent intent to use it.
Gun registration in Aotearoa
Yesterday, a significant change in gun laws passed its third and final reading in Parliament. Up until now there has been no system of firearms registration in this country, even for those weapons that became prohibited in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacre. I was beginning to think that the legislation would not be passed into law before the General Elections in September due to differences of opinion between the parties that make up the governing coalition.
After some intense negotiation between Labour and NZ First, the government got the numbers to progress the reforms. In essence, some reforms have immediate effect, while some such as a firearms registry won’t come into effect until 2023.
- A Ministerial Arms Advisory group will be established
- Reduced length of firearms licence from 10 years to 5 years
- Offences and penalties that will include a two year jail sentence and $20,000 fine
- More high-risk firearms are prohibited including short (pistol-length) semi-automatic rifles
- Endorsements for pest control have a shorter duration and need to be renewed
- More people involved in agricultural and similar businesses can obtain pest endorsements
- Those who come to New Zealand who are issued a licence for up to a year will no longer be able to purchase and take ownership of a firearm in New Zealand
Changes over the next three years
- In six months’ time anyone who sells ammunition will need a firearms licence
- New rules will take effect in six months to determine who is “fit and proper” to possess firearms and who will be disqualified from holding a firearms licence
- After one year, new rules governing a gun dealer’s licence. This is to recognise the range of dealer activities and associated risks of theft or misuse of firearms
- In two years time, there will be new requirements for shooting clubs and ranges, which up till now have not been regulated by law
- The establishment of an independent authority by 2023 to manage the licensing of firearms owners and the registration of firearms. Currently police are responsible for firearms licensing.
The legislation makes no change in our rights to gun ownership. As has always been the case here, there is no right to own guns. It’s a privilege, and more than ever, this legislation spells that such a privilege comes with responsibilities.