Why ACT believes taxpayers should partly subsidise firearms licences

ACT believes if the proposed increase of nearly 500 percent to firearms licence fees occurs it will push guns underground and decrease the safety of Kiwis. 

Gun owners say police have so far refused to say why the proposed fee will rise from what the current ($126.50 for a 10-year licence) to a proposed $727.50 for 10 years.

Police say the new amount means taxpayers would only subsidise a quarter of the cost of the licence fee. 

ACT MP Nicole McKee told AM on Monday if the proposed changes go ahead, it will continue to "smash" the firearms community and force some clubs to close. 

"That regime will actually mean there is a cost on those volunteers to be able to operate clubs," she told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

"We're hearing they're going to start shutting down around the country and then we've got registration coming up in June this year and we still don't know what cost is going to be placed on that." 

McKee said the proposed changes could encourage some gun owners to hide their guns under beds or in a mate's cabinet to avoid fees. 

"When you look at these massive increases from $126 to nearly $730, they're actually pricing people out of legal ownership of firearms and that's quite concerning because police are turning this into a business unit at the expense of community safety," she said. 

"We've seen that play out over the last few years. We need to know where the firearms are and this is going to push many of them underground." 

By having taxpayers partly subsidise firearms licences, McKee believes it will help keep the New Zealand community safe. 

"If you start making it too expensive to be able to comply, then people won't and that means firearms will come out of the safes, get hidden under beads and possibly feed the black market once they go into the grey," she told AM.

"So it's not keeping that community safety there and I think that has got to be the main principle we have behind firearms ownership in New Zealand."

ACT MP Nicole McKee.
ACT MP Nicole McKee. Photo credit: AM

When questioned by Chan-Green about if it's unfair on law-abiding gun owners to say they won't follow the rules if the rules value safety over money, McKee said it comes down to what their use is. 

"Let me give you an example of this, if you are a re-enactor and you want to go to the community and do a re-enactment with 30 of your friends, you'll have to pay over $1000 now per person to be able to do that," she said. 

"That equates to $30,000 for one event going into police coffers. That's got nothing to do with keeping the community safe, that's turning firearms into a business unit at the expense of the community safety and that is wrong." 

Qualified counsellor Raphael van Workum has been legally hunting on private property with friends for years. She told Stuff if the proposed new fees occurred, it would affect her decision to get a firearms licence.  

"It creates a dynamic of privilege... it can become an unattainable cost for some people," she told Stuff. 

"There are communities, particularly rural communities in New Zealand and farming communities, that having a gun licence is just as important as having a driver's licence."

The cost of a firearms licence hasn't risen for 24 years and it's not known when a decision on the new fees will be made. 

Watch the full interview with Nicole McKee in the video above.