Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Govt takes aim at gun club regulations

The Government is consulting New Zealanders on a package of proposals for “simple and effective” regulation of shooting clubs and ranges, Associate Minister of Justice, Nicole McKee, announced today.

The Minister said shooting clubs and ranges were not only important places for people to learn to operate firearms safely, to practice, and to compete, but also great community assets.

“However, law changes in 2020 changed the way that clubs and ranges are regulated, with all shooting clubs needing to be approved, and ranges needing to be certified, often at extensive cost,” said Minister McKee.

“I am concerned these requirements went beyond what was needed to ensure public safety. The current regulations impact the people running clubs and ranges – many of whom are volunteers – and create a risk that they will close.

“This would have a negative impact on public safety. Club members run many of our ranges, and if a club closes there is no one to operate the range. This leaves no safe venue for the essential tasks of sighting in rifles and educating new licensed firearms owners on firearms safety.”

She said ACT’s coalition agreement committed to immediately beginning work to repeal and replace Part 6 of the Arms Act 1983 relating to clubs and ranges.

“We have been working hard on this, and today I am pleased to share what that looks like.”

The Ministry of Justice is set to undertake focused consultation from now through June on a package of proposals for “simple and effective” regulation of pistol and non-pistol shooting clubs and ranges, the Minister confirmed.

“I am looking forward to hearing the views of stakeholders. Final proposals will be confirmed after the consultation has concluded, with a Bill to be introduced to Parliament later this year,” she said.

“In the meantime, the Government will make a short-term adjustment to the non-pistol club annual reporting requirement.

“Non-pistol shooting clubs have contacted me directly, concerned about the requirement to provide an annual report. This is first-hand knowledge of the pressure clubs are under. In my view, this is an example of over-regulation without a clear public safety rationale.

“Adjusting this requirement for non-pistol clubs will serve as a short-term measure, benefiting over 100 non-pistol shooting clubs, until broader changes to the requirements for clubs are considered as part of the Arms Act rewrite.”

All shooting clubs will need to comply with current requirements until the changes have come into effect, she said.

“I look forward to sharing my wider programme of firearms law reform with New Zealanders. We need simple and effective regulation that contributes to the safety of New Zealand communities by keeping firearms out of the hands of those who would misuse them.”

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