Black Power member backs gun crackdown, says gangs not the problem

A senior Black Power member says he supports the Government's plans to crack down on illegal guns

Gangs have come under fire for refusing to hand over their guns despite the Government's crackdown.

But lifetime Black Power gang member Denis O'Reilly says the focus on gangs is misdirected.

"To me this is a bit of a red herring, if gang members have got guns just treat them like any other criminal. Not every gang member is a criminal and not every criminal is a gang member," he told Magic Talk host Peter Williams on Tuesday.

"As you know it wasn't a gang member that attacked those innocent people, and anyone who has illicit weapons faces the full force of the law and I support the law in taking it off them."

Williams says it's evident gangs are "cocking a snoot" at the law - and thinks the Government is too "soft" to do anything about it.

"Already the gangs have said they will not be handing their guns in," he said on his Morning Talk show on Tuesday.

"That's unless the police are told by the Government to go there into the gang pads and take out the illegal weapons - but that won't happen because this Government is soft on crime and they won't be raiding gang properties anytime soon in a search for weapons."

When asked whether he would support the police coming to Black Power gang pads to search for illegal weapons,  O'Reilly  said that "if they've got due cause, fair enough".

"It's not really where the issue is and it's the people you're not looking at where the problem is coming from," he told Williams.

He came out in support of the Government's plan to crack down on illegal guns after the amnesty period ends on September 30.

"Guns are not part of my life, it's a long time since I've handled a firearm let alone owned one - and I was a licensed gun owner," he told Williams.

But other gang leaders have said they won't be handing their weapons in because they need them for hunting and protection.

Williams says gangs are coming up with some of the most "ridiculous rationales" you could ever think of as to why they need weapons.

"'We need guns to stay safe', they say. Really? The vast majority of New Zealanders can stay safe without needing to have a gun. What they really mean is they need to be safe from other criminals and gangs," he says.

"They also say they need guns to get food for their whanau. Really? Most New Zealanders get our food from the shops.

"Yes there is some hunting done for birds and animals by enthusiastic Kiwi sportsmen, but by gang members? Well, I don't think so."

However Williams doesn't think it will come to this, or that Black Power or Mongrel Mob will face any consequences from flouting the law.

"They will get away with it because the gangs have always got away with it."