Gun register and tighter rules among second round of gun reforms

By Talisa Kupenga

Tighter rules and a register for firearms owners and licence holders were among the second tranche of gun reforms announced Monday by Government.

The announcement comes four months and one week since the Christchurch terror attack.

Under the new rules licences would need to be renewed every five years instead of every ten years, but some 5000 licences due for renewal between July 22 and December 31, 2019 will be exempt.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says “We thought it easier just to say from the first of January, we’re hoping the new bill will pass by the end of the year.

“Keep in mind, with regard to the register, we require every field to be filled out within a five year period so we think we’re pretty much meeting the requirements in terms of registering firearms and getting people who own firearms on to the register within five years.”

The next Arms Amendment Bill will:

  • Establish a register of firearms and licence holders to be rolled out over 5 years
  • Tighten the rules to get and keep a firearms licence
  • Tighten the rules for gun dealers to get and keep a licence
  • Require licences to be renewed every five years
  • Introduce a new system of warning flags so Police can intervene and seek improvement if they have concerns about a licence holder’s behaviour
  • Prohibit visitors to New Zealand from buying a gun
  • Establish a licensing system for shooting clubs and ranges for the first time
  • Set up a new formal group to give independent firearms advice to Police, which will include people from within and outside the gun-owning community
  • Provide for new controls on firearms advertising
  • Require a licence to buy magazines, parts and ammunition
  • Increase penalties and introduce new offences
  • Enshrine in law that owning a firearm is a privilege and comes with an obligation to demonstrate a high level of safety and responsibility

Police Minister Stuart Nash says “owning a gun is a privilege, not a right” and modernising the law is required.

“Our gun laws date from 1983 and are dangerously out date. Since then the firearms manufacturing industry and the ability to buy and sell online has markedly changed.

"The administration of the system is also very outdated. There are higher penalties for taking fish than for some firearms offences, it is significantly cheaper to get a gun licence than it is to register a dog.

Under current law Government does not know exactly how many guns are in circulation, who owns them, who is selling them, who is buying them or how securely they are stored against the risk of theft or misuse.

It is unclear at this stage whether air rifles like slug guns would be required to be registered.

So far more than 2,100 people had handed-in 3,200 firearms and 7,800 parts, and more than $6.1 million in compensation payments had been processed.

The first draft is expected to be introduced late August. It will spend three months at select committee for public feedback.