The Arms Amendment Bill is in the process of being pushed through parliament, and as part of that the Police have issued an “impact statement” claiming that there will be no unintended side effects, which is unfortunately far from the truth. But that’s not all – under a section of the impact report we are informed that firearm-related offences make up almost 11% of violent offences. Wow! that is really high! but is it true? not in the least.
As you can see, the percentages are rather alarming in the table, though when compared against the counts something looks a little fishy. They do make some claim about “3 strikes provisions” for the total figure, which is our first hint they are cherry-picking data.
Take “Other acts intended to cause injury” for the 2018 financial year – the 36 cases apparently make up 43.3% of the total, meaning that there were only 83 cases in 2018! But, wait a minute, according to police data there there 46,051 acts intended to cause injury in 2018.
And the Crime at a glance report published by the police shows that in the year ending august 2019 there are 14,171 Serious Assaults not resulting in injury and 16,439 Serious Assaults resulting in injury. That’s a total of 30,610 “serious assaults” in 2019! According to the crime at a glance report serious assaults are up 36% on the year before, which would suggest the total for “serious” assault in 2018 is actually 22,441.
So on one hand the Police claim there were over 22,000 serious assaults in 2018 and then expect us to believe that the 292 cases where firearms were involved somehow make up over ten percent of that.
Let me bust out my calculator real quick, and, ah, yes – the real number is more like 1.3% of serious assaults in 2018, roughly one-tenth of what the Police are telling our MPs. And the percentages plummet if you take all assaults or a wider range of offences into account.
And then once you take the rate of firearms offences committed by firearms licence holders, which is around 1%, you end up with about 0.01% of serious violent crimes involving firearms being committed by licence holders. The Arms Legislation Bill almost exclusively focuses on regulation of licences, dealers, clubs, and ranges, and ignores the other (literally) 99.99% of violent crime involving firearms.
If there was any shred of credibility remaining in the NZ Police they just flushed it away.
UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that the a parliamentary report from 2017 states “New Zealand has a very low crime rate with firearms, at about 1.4 percent of all violent crime“. The table provided by police for the impact report has 10.9 for 2016 and 12.3 for 2017, further reinforcing that the police used cherry-picked or inflated figures for the report, with the real numbers being much more in-line with the ad-hoc calculation done above which yielded 1.3%.