Thursday, April 25, 2024

New guns law passed

The Government’s commitment to ending firearms violence has reached a milestone with the passage of the Firearms Prohibition Order Legislation Bill, says Police Minister, Chris Hipkins.

The Minister said the new law will help to reduce firearm-related crime by targeting possession, use, or carriage of firearms by people whose actions and behaviours demonstrate risk.

“In the hands of the wrong people, firearms are a major contributing factor in a range of serious crimes. It’s also clear that there are responsible firearms owners whose possession and use of firearms does not pose a risk to society,” Mr Hipkins said.

Following today’s passage of the Bill, anyone convicted and sentenced of a specified serious crime, including murder, serious assault, sexual violence, and some family violence offences, can be subject to an order and not lawfully able to use or access a firearm.

“Passing this Bill is a significant milestone and the result of a concerted effort. Firearms Prohibition Orders were first mooted around eight years ago by the previous government but it failed a number of times to make progress,” said Minister Hipkins.

“It strikes a sensible balance and will support our courts and Police in helping prevent firearms from ending up in the wrong hands.”

He said the Bill has been designed to carefully balance public safety protections with Bill of Rights considerations, particularly those associated with the right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure.

“The Bill introduces wider sanctions for breach of an order but importantly, also has flexibility for the courts, to assist with the reintegration and rehabilitation needs of those people subject to a Firearms Prohibition Order.”

“The courts will be able to take into consideration relevant factors when imposing a Firearms Prohibition Order, including reasonableness and necessity.

“Owning a firearm is a privilege and Firearms Prohibition Orders make clear that anyone convicted of a serious offence won’t have access to firearms, ammunition or any related firearms item.”

Courts will be able to impose an order lasting 10 years, and it will be a criminal offence to breach the conditions of the order, the Minister said.

“I am proud of the Government’s record on supporting Police and making our communities safer. This work builds on the previous legislation passed to ban assault rifles and military style semi-automatics, and to update and strengthen the Arms Act to provide better leverage and tools for Police in ensuring only fit and proper people can hold a firearms licence in New Zealand.”

“This is about keeping our communities safe from the harm that firearms can cause in the hands of criminals,” Mr Hipkins said.

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