“ACT will target the gangs by hitting them where it hurts – their pockets,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour and Firearms Spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“New Zealanders deserve to be safe and secure, but violent gangs are a scourge on our communities.
“Over the past two and a half years, the number of gang members has increased by a third.
“There’s been a 54 percent increase in the number of gang members being charged with firearms offences. That’s at least one gang member a day being charged with firearms offences.
“We’ve seen a clear escalation in behaviour from the gangs, with regular shootings using illegal firearms.
“The current approach to dealing with gangs and illegal firearms hasn’t worked.
“Neither the Government’s new gun legislation, nor the buyback, has made a difference to the number of illegal firearms in circulation.
“Locking people up gets them off the street, but the gangs don’t care if young prospects are sent to jail and just carry on operating in our communities.
“We need to get smarter. That means hitting the gangs where it hurts.
“If Police find illegal firearms at an unlawful, gang-run operation, we’ll seize their assets.
ACT will amend the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 (the Act) so that if a Police search finds:
- an illegal operation (e.g. drug manufacturing for supply or money laundering), and
- the unlawful possession of a firearm, and
- a person who is either a gang member or is closely affiliated,
it can apply to the courts for an order to seize the operation’s assets.
Currently, Police must meet a number of tests before it can apply to the courts to seize assets under the Act.
That includes proving a link between illicit money and the purchasing of assets, and proof of drug manufacturing or money laundering at a value of more than $30,000.
Police often wait until the suspected value is much higher as an offence is then easier to prove.
“Under our proposal, if an illegal firearm is found in the possession of a known gang member at a property where an illegal operation is taking place, authorities will not be required to meet the current tests. The discovery of an illegal firearm can be used to fast-track the seizure of assets,” says Firearms Spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“ACT is going to go after the gangs and their guns by hitting them where it hurts.
“In the wake of our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch, the Government targeted the wrong group of New Zealanders by scapegoating law-abiding firearms owners. It should be going after the gangs.
“One illegal firearm in the hands of a gang is one too many. If Police find illegal firearms at an unlawful operation run by a gang, we’ll seize their assets.
“Under our proposal, gangs will either need to shut up shop, disarm, or have their assets seized.
“New Zealanders deserve to be safe and secure, but violent gangs are a scourge on our communities. ACT’s plan to get smarter in dealing with the gangs is a step towards safer communities.”