A good judge properly enforces ‘fit and proper person’ test

Yesterday, front page of the Sunday Star-Times, was a story that was somewhat strange, but buried in the middle of it all was a good decision by a good judge: Quote:

Shirley Whyte can’t fathom how her 16-year-old son died.?”I still don’t know what happened that day,” she says. “It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and Mark was shot in an open paddock. I want to know what happened and who was there.”

This much is known: Tuatapere man Brendon Diack, another hunter,?fired at least one of the?shots that passed through Mark Whyte’s green-brown Swanndri on September 21, 1996. Diack admitted a charge of careless use of a firearm causing death, and served 29 days in jail. Remorseful, he later told media he wasn’t allowed?to?go hunting again, and didn’t?want to.

Twenty-two years of grief and anger culminated this week in a?court decision?that is being hailed as setting a legal precedent in New Zealand gun control.

Because?Diack was not true to his word. As the years passed after the killing, he decided he did wish to go hunting again ? and five or six times, he applied to police for a new gun licence. Every time, they refused. And so,?frustrated, he took the police to court.

Late on Friday afternoon,?Judge Mark Callaghan refused Diack’s?bid to get his licence back, pointing to the 1996 tragedy and two angry outbursts?in 2013 and 2014 to show Diack was not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence. End quote.

He shot and killed someone, standing in an open paddock. If you shoot and kill someone then you don’t deserve a firearms licence, ever. Coupled with two other violence offences, this guy fails the fit-and-proper-person test all day long. The only way he would get an exemption, it would seem, is if he was an All Black or former All black. They get a free pass. But, on this occasion the judge made a good decision. The minister of police agrees: Quote:

Police Minister Stuart Nash has welcomed the?decision, telling?Stuff?it set a legal precedent.

The Government?was reviewing firearms?policy:?”I think the police need more powers.”

It’s a privilege to have a firearms licence, not a right, and we need to ensure that those that do have the ability to own a firearm meet the good character test,” Nash said. “Any time a decision like this is made for the first time, that can set a legal?precedent?judges can follow.” End quote.

In this instance the police acted properly in refusing him his licence and the judge backed that up. This is how the law is supposed to act. I’m glad to see it reinforced. Now if we could just get some consistency in judgments and enforcement. Quote:

Nash said the public would be consulted in the firearms policy review ? and this weekend, the Whytes said?they wanted?severe penalties to ensure gun safety.

“And there needs to be a law introduced that if the licence?is revoked, then it’s forever,” Jim Whyte said.?”You should not be able to get it back.End quote.

I don’t agree with Mr Whyte. There should be a path back if someone has their licence revoked. Just because it is revoked doesn’t mean there is anything bad. I have a mate who had his licence revoked because of false complaints from his bunny-boiler ex-wife. They were demonstrably false but police acted immediately and revoked his licence and took his guns. Once it was all investigated his licence was returned along with his guns. So, no, I don’t agree that once revoked you can never get one back. But sure, if you’ve killed someone, that should be forever.

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