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Easier Police Access To Guns Likely

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Howard Broad
Howard Broad

Wellington, Oct 13 NZPA - Faster and easier access by police to firearms looks likely to become a reality once a review of the issue by Police Commissioner Howard Broad is complete.

Mr Broad has been working on proposals to ensure officers have firearms close at hand if they need them and is due to report back to Police Minister Judith Collins before the end of the year.

Ms Collins said an option was likely to be to have lock-boxes in the front of patrol cars, and work was already being done to assess how such policy would operate.

"What we're looking at is that more (guns) would be available, and officers would be able to access them more quickly," she told reporters.

Ms Collins told the Police Association annual conference today she wouldn't support officers wearing guns "at schools, in malls or where they have a lot of contact with the community".

Prime Minister John Key said increasing access to guns had already been deemed by Mr Broad as a necessary step.

"I think New Zealanders will understand the need for police to have appropriate protection, but I think there's a fine balance here between making sure our police have the protection they need through guns, and making sure that they don't put themselves in the position where they're fearful of using those guns and in fact making the situations worse."

He said fitting all police cars with locked-up guns was a matter of accessibility and would prevent the need for officers to return to their station to fetch them in desperate situations.

Mr Key said his preference was for police to use non-lethal options, "but it's inevitable there's going to be some move towards arming our police officers more regularly".

He said Mr Broad had always been cautious about taking steps to increase the accessibility of guns to police and was comfortable such moves would have been carefully thought through.

Ms Collins said the fact that police in New Zealand were not routinely armed was a big part of the good relationship between the police and public.

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