Tuesday, March 5, 2024

New firearms law ahead of schedule

The Firearms Prohibition Order Legislation Bill will be passed through all remaining stages by the end of next week, Police Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

He said the Justice Select Committee had received public feedback and finalised its report ahead of schedule, reporting back to the House on Friday. 

“The Bill will be on the order paper for second reading this Thursday. The remaining stages will be worked through next week,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Firearms prohibition orders will help to further reduce firearms violence in our communities by prohibiting high risk offenders from accessing, being around or using firearms or ammunition.

“The Bill gives the courts the power to impose an Order lasting 10 years, and makes it a further criminal offence to breach the conditions of the Order. It is targeted at those with a history of serious violent offending and gun crimes.

“A breach of a firearms protection order will attract a much sterner penalty than existing powers.”

Penalties for new breach offences include:

  • Up to two years imprisonment, if a person breaches a condition of the order, for example resides in a location where there is firearms, or visits a prohibited location such as a gun shop;
  • Up to five years imprisonment if a person is found in possession or control of a firearm;
  • Up to seven years imprisonment if the firearm was a prohibited firearm, such as military style semi-automatic weapons;
  • Up to five years imprisonment, or up to seven years imprisonment if the firearm was a prohibited firearm, for knowingly supplying a firearm to a person subject to a firearm prohibition order.  

“Similarly the changes we are making to laws around illegally discharging firearms in public will also see greater penalties of up to five years imprisonment,” said Mr Hipkins.

“Firearms prohibition orders were first considered by the previous government in 2014 but the idea failed to make progress. A Select Committee also recommended change in early 2017. Other proposals in a Members Bill were rejected in 2018 and 2021 because they were too narrow.

“This Bill targets any violent offenders, including gang members, rather than a specific group of people. It gets the balance right between public safety – by prohibiting people with a history of offending from being near a dangerous weapon – and the Bill of Rights.

“As Police Minister I am committed to making changes that will help Police to make our communities safer. This work builds on that of previous Ministers, and this Government’s record of reducing the harm caused by guns.

“We have banned assault rifles and military style semi-automatics, the Government buyback meant over 60,000 dangerous guns were removed from the community, and the Police have taken thousands of illegal firearms and rounds of ammunition off the streets.”

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