Firearms Prohibition Orders: Government to ban high-risk convicted people from owning guns

The Government is cracking down on gun crime by banning high-risk convicted Kiwis from owning firearms and enabling the seizure of assets obtained through illicit means.

Police Minister Poto Williams told Newshub Nation over the weekend that the Government would soon introduce Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs), to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime.

FPOs will provide additional controls on specified people, for instance, on where that person may reside or visit. It will also ensure that someone subject to an FPO cannot use a gun under the supervision of a licenced gun owner.

A person subject to an FPO will not be able to use, access, or be around guns. Unless a court order says otherwise, they also will not be able to live in locations where there are firearms or visit locations where there are firearms, or associate with someone who has them.

When FPOs come into force, it will be a crime to breach them.

The penalties will depend on which conditions have been breached. Someone found in possession or control of a gun would face a penalty of up to five years in prison or up to seven years if the firearm was prohibited.

Breaching the FPO by residing in a location where there are firearms, or visiting a prohibited location such as a gun shop, could see the offender face two years behind bars.

It would also be an offence if another person knowingly supplied a gun to someone subject to an FPO. That person could face up to five years in prison or up to seven if the firearm was prohibited.

If someone is subject to an FPO, they will still be able to associate with friends and family with firearms licences, as long as guns have been stored away. But the person under the FPO would not be able to live there.

They would also not be able to visit locations such as gun fairs, firearms dealers or manufacturers, firearms clubs, or shooting ranges.

An FPO would last 10 years and it would not be able to be renewed. However, a subsequent FPO could be applied if they are convicted of another offence and the court considers it appropriate to impose further restrictions.

National MP Simeon Brown had similar FPO legislation that would have targeted gang members. Williams told Newshub Nation the Government wanted to go further and target all criminals, not just gang members.

Alongside this, the Government will change the law to introduce a new power of enabling the seizure of assets of those associated with organised crime.

"Those involved in organised crime, including those who launder their money, would have to demonstrate their assets were obtained legitimately," said Justice Minister Kris Faafoi.

"It is no secret that gun crime is an increasing concern to our communities and we need to take further action to make sure New Zealanders and their families are kept safe," Williams said. 

"It is a privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country and we need to take that ability out of the hands of people who pose a threat to our communities."

Since February, police have seized 350 firearms, along with $2.46 million in cash, through Operation Tauwhiro, under which 378 people have been arrested in relation to firearms offences.

Both law changes will be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year, and the public will have the opportunity to comment on them when they are referred to a select committee.

The Government banned military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles in the wake of the March 15, 2019 Christchurch terror attack, and by June 2020 a second tranche of gun law reforms had been passed in Parliament.