A report in today’s Herald on Sunday attempts to link the New Zealand police’s chronic neglect and wanton abuse of their Bushmaster rifles with the accidental shooting of teenager Halatau Naitoko. The paper makes a lousy job of it—due to a singular lack of evidence connecting the rifle abuse with Naitoko’s death. Nevertheless, the article is a stunning indictment of the New Zealand police force’s treatment of their deadly weapons. “Problems first emerged in 2006 after a study of 18 rifles, according to an email from the New Zealand Police National Armoury to police headquarters in Wellington. The email, written by a firearms expert, speculated that rifle barrels were being damaged because of sound suppressors that had been fitted to reduce noise, allowing police to comply with health and safety laws. Without the suppressors, the noise of the rifles was excessive – but the sound-dampening attachment also forced material back into the barrel of the rifle when a bullet was fired.” IGW (It Gets Worse).
Further studies in April 2007 found the rifle barrels were also suffering from the type of ammunition used in training, and a lack of cleaning.
Yet police documents show no action was taken until February 2009, when a new report asked for $130,000 to buy new rifle barrels and other equipment to fix the problem. The report stated that the problem posed “a risk to public and police safety”.
Police bosses were told that risks also included an inability to carry out proper firearms training for frontline staff and recruits.
A lack of cleaning? That’s . . . ridiculous. Complacency can kill. It may not have done in this case, but the NZ po-po should have never have allowed their pursuit of political correctness take precedence over firearm safety.