National pushes back on 'unduly focused' second tranche of proposed gun law changes

National is pushing back on the latest second tranche of proposed gun law changes, describing them as "unduly focused" on "law-abiding gun owners". 

The party's police spokesperson Brett Hudson said the Government has not focused enough on limiting access to guns by gangs and those involved in criminal activity. 

"National wants to see reforms that will focus on people who could pose a risk to society and won't unduly impact law-abiding New Zealanders," Hudson said in a statement on Monday. 

He provided a list of more than 10 changes National wants to see in the second tranche of gun law reforms before the party will consider its support. 

Firstly, National wants the Government to support in full its proposed Firearms Prohibition Orders which would ensure gang members cannot hold a firearms licence. 

National pushed for Firearms Prohibition Orders after Waikato Mongrel Mob Sonny Fatu said his gang would not hand over their firearms even if the Government made law changes. 

National's demands also include keeping the gun licence duration the same as it is today, instead of limiting it from 10 to five years as the Government proposed. 

"National does not see the need for reducing the licence time for ten years to five years. It will impose further cost on owners and, given the more rigid provisions in this Bill, more compliance."

National is also calling for clear rules for clubs and sporting ranges.

National's police spokesperson Brett Hudson.
National's police spokesperson Brett Hudson. Photo credit: Facebook

In addition, it says visitors shouldn't be outright prohibited from purchasing a gun in New Zealand if they haven't been in the country for a year. The party said the problem is that visitors may not know the legal obligations. 

National also wants to see wider exemptions for controlling pests. The new Bill suggests a check on those who have access to prohibited firearms every two years, and National views it as too restrictive. 

The Bill would also enable health practitioners to notify police if they have concerns about a licence firearms owner's health or wellbeing. National is concerned it could stop people from seeking help from their doctors. 

The proposed firearms register is welcomed by National, but it raised some concern about the estimate that it will be years to get up and running. 

The party is recommending separating the register out of the Bill and encouraging police to build a detailed business case for the register and to gather currently held data. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash announced the second tranche of gun law changes earlier this month, with the aim of preventing firearms from reaching the hands of criminals.

The first tranche of gun law changes focused on banning military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack shootings. 

National supported the first tranche of gun law changes and the legislation passed its final reading in April. 

But party leader Simon Bridges has been critical of the second tranche, and last month said it was "unlikely" National would support them. 

"There's no politics. It's simply a question of a next series of laws that seem to be aimed at good, law-abiding people rather than criminals, the gangs and extremists," Bridges said at the time. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was "disappointed" to hear that Bridges was considering not supporting the second tranche of reforms.

ACT leader David Seymour also does not support the proposed legislation, saying the process has been rushed and that firearm owners "should be given a fair hearing and a fair go". 

The Arms Legislation Bill - the second tranche of gun law changes - will have its first reading on Tuesday. 

The main points in second tranche:

  • Proposed firearms register
  • Reducing the length of the time of issue for a firearms licence to five years
  • The creation of a licensing regime for shooting clubs and ranges
  • A requirement to be a licence holder to purchase and hold firearm parts, magazines, and ammunition
  • Tightening the rules in the licensing regimes for individuals and dealers
  • Updated and new offences and penalties
  • Enabling doctors to notify police if they have concerns about a licence firearms owner
  • Strengthening regulatory oversight on importation and sales