The left shouldn’t fear Greg O'Connor | The Jackal

14 Aug 2017

The left shouldn’t fear Greg O'Connor

When Greg O’Connor was a young Police officer he did a stint undercover and has lamented having to arrest gang members he viewed at the time as his mates. This is perhaps the main problem for the left, being that O’Connor might once again be somewhat politically undercover.

However the contrast between O’Connor’s stance on many policies, particularly gun control, and those expressed by the National led government couldn’t be more apparent.

The current Minister of Police, Paula Bennett, was recently in the news saying there wouldn’t be any changes to the current gun laws in light of the Quinn Patterson murders. It might surprise people that this actually goes against O'Connor's stance on the matter.

In February, Stuff reported:

Greg O'Connor says he didn't favour Police Association call in 2010 for general arming

Now, with a political career beckoning, he said the only way the general arming of the police could be avoided was if the country got some control over the number of firearms falling into the wrong hands.

"Far from using these incidents as leverage for arguing for the general arming of police, the Police Association is asking why it is that offenders, who in the past might have been armed with knives or other weapons, now seem to have ready access to firearms," O'Connor said.

"Although our position remains that general arming is an inevitability if such attacks continue, what we believe is urgently needed is an inquiry into why firearms appear to be more readily available."

An inquiry is worthwhile. However the measures to reduce illegal firearms are already available, and have been for some time. It stands to reason that better gun control would include better policing practices as well, but really what is required is to have all guns registered.

Obviously the gun industry and their lobbyists won’t like any further restrictions on gun sales. Neither will many hunters and hobbyists unless the required changes to the law like registering firearms is shown to be affordable and proven to be beneficial to society by reducing gun crime.

"Anything is possible but there's got to be a political will to do it," O'Connor said.

This is true for so many things.

Greg O’Connor has stated that arming the Police is inevitable, unless there is a way to limit offenders getting ready access to firearms.

That’s a pretty big proviso being that O’Connor is now entering politics where he has the opportunity to directly promote a number of ways to limit criminal access to firearms. Perhaps he even realises in hindsight that the Police Association should have supported the gun control reforms proposed in 1997.

There is no doubt that O’Conner’s political leanings are more akin in many respects to the right wing. However he’s actually highly conservative in both directions, and will annoy people to the left and right of Labour.

But rather than making O’Connor appear to be a rogue MP, I think this will cause some positive friction within the Labour party who, like National, have taken a very hands off approach to gun laws in the past... tension that is required to ensure that the best changes are proposed and implemented to limit serious criminals from having ready access to firearms.

Nobody, even frontline officers, really want to see the Police armed if there’s a readily available alternative to fix the issue of illegally obtained firearms being circulated in the criminal underworld.

Clearly Labour wanted somebody of O’Connor’s character and conservative tendencies for the Ōhāriu electorate. It seems to have paid off, with their candidate recently polling 14% above the incumbent, Peter Dunne.

It’s also relevant to mention that O’Connor has an adult disabled son and his family looks after a trust involved in residential support for people living with disabilities. Entering politics appears to have been a choice for O’Connor between that and becoming more involved in the disabilities sector.

Only the National party should fear Greg O'Connor, and Peter Dunne of course.