ACT has today launched a consultation document on proposed changes to New Zealand’s firearms laws.
“Labour’s knee-jerk response to our nation’s tragedy in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 punished licenced firearms owners (LFOs) and at the same time failed to make New Zealand safer. ACT will put that right,” says ACT’s Firearms Law Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“Several rounds of rushed legislation have created a broken licencing system which is costly and needlessly bureaucratic. Two rounds of firearms and ammunition ‘buy-backs’, the establishment of an ‘independent’ Firearms Safety Authority, and the creation of a firearms registry has cost hundreds of millions of dollars to date.
“Despite these changes – or perhaps because of them – New Zealanders are now experiencing increasing rates of firearms-related crime and feel less safe. Half of New Zealand’s annual average of fatal shootings have occurred in just 17 days, between 20 July and 6 August. Criminal gangs continue to use illegal, unregistered firearms as they always have.
“There is deep frustration in the firearms community with the current Arms Act, and the fact that law-abiding LFOs must navigate a needlessly complex, confusing, and bureaucratic system.
“ACT has committed to repealing Labour’s rushed legislation and implementing a fair, fit-for-purpose Arms Act of which New Zealand can be proud. We do not want to make the same mistakes as the Labour Government and rush through poorly thought-out changes, which is why we have released this discussion document today and are seeking feedback on it.
“ACT has four main objectives:
1. To enhance safety and prevent misuse, ACT proposes:
- Introducing a three-tier licensing system which recognises that all firearms pose a threat in the wrong hands, and that licencing the individual is the key to preventing misuse.
- Scrapping the firearms registry – it does not address the true source of firearms offending because it targets LFOs, not criminals.
- Requiring parental/guardian consent for 16 and 17-year-old firearms licence applicants.
- Disqualifying gang members from holding a firearms licence.
- Enabling the ongoing inspection of firearms and secure storage by arms officers.
2. To act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack, ACT proposes to:
- Treat offences which occurred overseas as equivalent to those which occurred in New Zealand when vetting an applicant for a firearms licence.
- Use intelligence gathered by overseas agencies during the vetting process.
3. To reduce bureaucracy and waste, ACT proposes to:
- Scrap the firearms registry and focus attention where it matters: firearms licence vetting and targeting illegal firearms held by criminals.
- Establish an in-house firearms disputes process to avoid lengthy and expensive proceedings in District Courts.
- Restore pre-2019 regulations governing clubs and ranges. Clubs and ranges play a core role in improving firearms safety, but they are closing under the weight of current legal requirements which need to be reversed.
- Introduce longer licence periods for trusted firearms dealers.
- Introduce annual importation permits for trusted firearms dealers.
4. A truly independent Firearms Licencing Authority
- ACT proposes establishing a standalone Firearms Licencing Authority. The current regime leaves firearms licencing, administration, and enforcement to Police. ACT will create a truly independent Firearms Safety Authority responsible for administration of the firearms licencing system. This will allow Police to focus on enforcing the law and policing illegal firearms held by the gangs.
“In 2019, ACT was the only party to stand up for what was right and vote against Labour’s rushed firearms law reforms.
“ACT made a commitment to licenced firearms owners that we would start again and rewrite the Arms Act. Now we are making good on that commitment.
“We invite New Zealanders to have their say on this consultation document so we can move forward together and develop a fair, fit-for-purpose Arms Act for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”
You can have your say by emailing [email protected].
ACT's consultation document can be found here.