Raft of changes to New Zealand’s gun laws recommended after mosque attack come into force today

Changes to New Zealand’s gun laws recommended after the Christchurch mosque attacks come into force today.

This means those guilty of gun crimes will face harsher penalties and Firearms Prohibition Orders will be introduced to ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.

The regulations also mean additional information will be required by applicants for firearms licences, including a list of countries travelled to or visited in the previous five years involving stays of 14 days or more, and the length of stay in each country address.

The reforms, made under the Arms Amendment Regulations 2021, are some of the many changes created by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 2019 terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain, in which 51 people lost their lives and 40 were injured.

Police Minister Poto Williams said owning a firearm in New Zealand is a privilege, not a right, and these changes were another step towards combating firearms violence and improving public safety.

“Gangs and other violent criminals cannot continue to threaten, intimidate, and exploit our communities and these additional regulations provide the police further tools to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and to keep our communities safe.”

On Sunday the Herald revealed new police data which showed New Zealand was awash with guns and frontline officers were encountering about 10 firearms every day.

The worrying statistics showed police carrying out their duties have discovered more than 10,000 firearms across the country in the past three years.

They also confirmed Auckland is a hotbed for gun violence, with Counties Manukau police recording the highest number of weapons nationwide and the city’s three policing districts accounting for about half the nation’s firearms-related injuries and deaths.

The rise in gun violence, particularly in Auckland, has been linked to growing gang tensions, the growth of Australia’s 501 deportees and the illicit drug trade.

The Police Association said the Herald’s figures backed up the experiences of frontline officers and would fuel calls for routine arming of police.

Williams said the Government had a strong track record in tackling firearms violence, and today’s changes were just the latest in a suite of measures which will improve public safety.

These also included, she said, remaining committed to having the firearms register up and running by June 2023.

“This is a key change to the firearms vetting process, which will help ensure anyone with red flags in other jurisdictions will be identified. Police can then consider whether these individuals are fit and proper to hold a firearms licence in New Zealand.”

The Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Bill, which is one of the key measures combating firearms violence, has its first reading in the House this month.

The changes to the regulations tailor the requirements to each type of firearms dealer activity. They also work to provide the information that is required for the import of ammunition and pistol carbine conversion kits.

These also specify the nature and type of records that need to be kept by businesses selling ammunition.

The statement noted the changes would give greater clarity on transporting firearms in vehicles reducing the previous uncertainty which led to some individuals taking the firearm with them whenever they leave the vehicle.

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