Kawerau shooting triggered firearms inquiry
By Peter Wilson
The "appalling" shooting of four police officers near Kawerau was a main reason why parliament's law and order select committee decided to hold an inquiry into the illegal possession of firearms.
The cross-party committee decided on Wednesday to hold the inquiry and its chairman, National MP Kanwaljat Singh Bakshi, has explained why.
"Last week's appalling shooting of four police officers and the discovery of a large cache of military-style weapons in Auckland confirmed the need to investigate how criminals are able to obtain illegal firearms," he said.
The draft terms of reference for the inquiry are:
* How widespread firearm possession is among criminals, including gangs
* How criminals, gangs, and those who do not have a licence come into possession of firearms.
Mr Bakshi says the committee will seek evidence from several organisations and consider calling for public submissions.
Police Minister Judith Collins, who wanted an inquiry, has welcomed the committee's decision.
"I think it's a positive response to have a cross-party inquiry," she told reporters.
"There needs to be a focus on how guns are getting into the hands of serial violent offenders, and particularly gangs."
The committee has nine members representing National, Labour and NZ First.
The decision to hold the inquiry was unanimous.
The Labour Party, and Ms Collins, started calling for an inquiry following the shooting of the police officers.
Ms Collins said if the committee didn't make a move she would set up a ministerial inquiry.