A broad precis of the purpose of the new law as contained in the Strengthening the Framework for the Safe Use and Control of Firearms cabinet document is as follows;
The new law seeks to balance safe and legitimate use of firearms while managing the risk of harm and public safety.
It will contain a purpose statement that it is a privilege to possess and use firearms
Firearm owners, users, dealers and importers have a responsibility to act in the interests of personal and public safety.
A central national firearm register will be established
It will have the capability of monitoring, tracking and recording individual firearms
It will contain all licence holders details, including firearm licence number, expiry date and endorsements
It will detail each firearms make, model and number
It will identify the location of those firearms
All sales and transfers will be recorded
A licence will be required to buy firearm magazines and parts
Private firearm sales will be allowed and these sales will be recorded in the new registry
The information in the registry will be built up over five years
Licensing processes will be strengthened to ensure only fit and proper persons can possess firearms
The new Act will set out the knowledge, positive behaviour and skills necessary to obtain a firearm licence
It will specifically ban anyone with convictions during the last 10 years for serious drug offences, organised crime, violence or firearm offences and longer term protection orders.
Anyone with those convictions with a firearm licence will have their licence revoked
When assessing if a person is fit and proper, police will be able to take into account any concerning pattern of behaviour such as substance abuse, being the subject of a protection order, showing no regard for firearm laws, serious offending, crimes involving violence, drugs or alcohol, is a member or affiliate of gangs or organised crime, been the aggressor in serious family violence, exhibited significant mental health, attempted suicide or other self-harm, show disregard for private and Crown land and property, or is a risk to national security.
Licence holders will have to disclose serious mental health changes, or permanent physical disability affecting safe firearm use, or anything else that would affect them being a fit and proper person, such as drug abuse, gambling addiction or violence.
Health practitioners will have a responsibility to notify police if a firearm licence holder shouldn’t be permitted to use their firearms
All such information on a persons suitability to hold a firearms licence must be substantiated
The registry may supply applicants with the results of their fit and proper assessment
New firearms licence will be valid for five years
Existing ten year licence will be grand parented
Licence fees will increase in order to cover costs to either partially or fully cover the full cost of licences
The new law will specifically require licence holders to be responsible to act in the interests of personal and public safety
Security arrangements for firearm storage will be able to be inspected by police with reasonable notice
Security will be required in vehicles
No limit will be put on the number of firearms which can be held by a person
Overseas visitors will be able to bring their own firearms into New Zealand but they must be registered upon arrival
Visitors will not be able to buy firearms while in New Zealand
The new law will clarify who is a dealer
The fit and proper test for dealers will be strengthened so police are satisfied a dealer has excellent character and sound technical capability
The new Act will specify positive examples which demonstrate a person can hold a dealer’s licence
LICENSING FOR CLUBS AND SHOOTING RANGES
The new Act will require shooting clubs and ranges be licensed
This system will be graduated depending on the size and nature of a club or range
The Act will contain a definition of a club or range and the requirements on the owner, operator or manager, risk management, monitoring and training of users, instructors and supervisors
A licensed operator must be of excellent character
LICENSING DECISION REVIEW
The Act will provide a decision review process
COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
Police will be able to issue Improvement Notices requiring licence holders to comply with specific parts of the new Act which aren’t being met
A licence can be revoked if the Improvement Notice requirements aren’t met
The new Act will allow police to immediately seize firearms when the process for revoking a licence begins
Existing offences and penalties will be updated
The new Act will allow fees to be set to recover direct and indirect costs, the methods for cost recovery, what cost recovery will apply to and the ability to waive, exempt or refund fees
The Minister of Police will report back to Cabinet at the end of 2019 on the cost of operating the new firearms law and options for cost recovery.
The new Act will allow regulation and notice making powers to expand or explain regulations. These must be approved by the Minister of Police
DIRECT DATA ACCESS
The drafting of the new Act will consider how a firearm register will share information with other government departments
This sharing provision will be similar to the Intelligence and Security Act 2017
All sharing provisions will operate within the Privacy Act 1993.
AMMUNITION AND ADVERTISING
An import permit will be required to import any quantity of ammunition.
Ammunition retailers will have to hold a current firearm licence. They will have to keep records and report unusual behaviour.
It will be an offence to possess ammunition without an appropriate firearms licence
The Firearms Community Advisory Forum has been told by Police that the new law will not restrict or affect handloading of ammunition.
There will be requirements for advertising firearms.
A permit will be required to import blank firing firearms to ensure they cannot be converted to fire live ammunition.
COMMISSIONERS STAKEHOLDER GROUP
The new Act will require the establishment of a stakeholder advisory group to provide critical independent advice to the Commissioner of Police
This group will have up to nine members with renewable three year terms of office
Members will come from the firearms community and wider non-firearms community
It will provide an annual report on its operations
The group will be deemed a Statutory Board for the purposes of the Fees and Travelling Allowances Act 1951
The new Act will be reviewed after five years
There will be no exemption for sports shooters to use prohibited firearms in competitions
Endorsements on licences allowing possession of restricted firearms such as pistols will last for the period left on the individual’s licence. A new application for an endorsement will have to be made when applying for a licence renewal.
A pest control endorsement will only last for two years, or the length of time left on the licence, whichever is shorter.
The new Act will be binding on the Crown. At the moment, there are exceptions for government agencies with policing and defence responsibilities.
The new Act will contain modern language and usage where appropriate.