So the National Shooters Association (NSA) made a police complaint against Judith Collins for having fired a pistol at an ESR testing facility, but police declined to prosecute. As I was watching 3News earlier in the week and saw their report on the story, my first thought was, “So what?” It’s a highly supervised environment, there’s no victim, and it’s a minor, technical offence at best. Frankly, I’d have been unimpressed with the police if they had laid a charge against Ms Collins, given that they have to follow the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines when deciding whether to lay charges.
But then the TV report noted that police had declined to prosecute, not because of the Solicitor-General’s guidelines, but due to no offence being committed. The police reasoning for this was that they were sure Ms Collins had been under proper supervision at the time she used the pistol.
Unfortunately, that’s entirely irrelevant to whether an offence was actually committed. As the NSA made clear, supervision only matters where the pistol possession occurs “on the range of an incorporated pistol club”, which does not include ESR testing facility.
It’s a little worrying that police don’t appear to have actually read the relevant section of the Arms Act 1983 before firing off their letter. If the letter writer had read s 50 of the Act, they would undoubtedly have then written back to the NSA to inform them, despite a technical offence having occurred, it was not deemed to be in the public interest for police resources to be wasted on a prosecution.
The NSA are apparently considering whether to launch a private prosecution, given that private prosecutions seem to be all the rage these days. My prediction? Someone will tell the NSA that Ms Collins will simply end up successfully applying for a discharge without conviction, and we’ll hear nothing further about this.
But in the meantime, if police could bone up on what the law actually says, that would be terrific…