A dedicated firearms unit will be established within NZ Police to take over firearms regulatory activities, Minister of Police Poto Williams has announced.
“It is a privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country,” Minister Williams said.
“The establishment of the new unit and changes to the arms regulatory system are aimed at improving public safety by stopping firearms falling into the wrong hands, and reducing the risk of anyone becoming victims of firearms crime.
“The decision to establish the unit follows consultation with my Arms Advisory Group, and government agencies. It will allow arms staff to focus on this work within a unit separate from, but still aligned to, Police,” she said.
The move is one of the many changes made by Police following the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCOI) into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain, which identified the need to improve administration of the Arms Act. A new operating model is required to deliver on the recommendations of the RCOI and achieve the public safety objectives of the Arms Act and the Arms Legislation Act 2020.
“This Government has a strong track record on tackling gun crime. Already, we have prohibited the most dangerous firearms. We’ve implemented harsher penalties for gun crime, and a tougher licensing system to ensure firearms do not fall into the wrong hands,” the Minister said.
“The unit will complement ongoing direct Police operations focused on reducing firearms crime and harm through targeting serious and organised crime, such as Operation Tauwhiro, which includes seizures of firearms and ammunitions.
“Representatives of the firearms owning and non-firearms owning communities will be kept informed of the unit’s development as it takes shape in 2022.”
An independent review of the unit is required to begin by 2026, to align with the statutory review of the Arms Act 1983.
The unit will be operational by December 2022. A Transitional Executive Director has been appointed to establish the new unit, and is in the process of appointing staff.