Nicole McKee says 'everything needs to be on the table' when it comes to rewriting Arms Act

The Associate Justice Minister says "everything needs to be on the table" when it comes to producing new gun laws amid fears from some Kiwis semi-automatic weapons could return.   

As part of the coalition agreement, National and ACT agreed to rewrite the Arms Act - which has been in place since the 1980s.   

The country's gun laws have become a tight topic since the Christchurch terror attack in March 2019, which killed 51 people.  

One month later, the Labour Government moved to change the laws, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons.  

But some Kiwis are now worried as the Coalition Government goes about rewriting the Arms Act with everything being on the table, including changing the existing licensing regime and re-introducing the military-style weapons used in the 15 March terror attacks. 

However, Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee, in charge of firearm reform, told AM on Thursday the Government doesn't want to "reintroduce anything".   

"Those firearms are already here. In fact, we have 6600 people who have endorsements to be in possession of those firearms, so there's nothing new here," she said.   

"We are not going to be introducing any new types of actions or any new types of firearms into New Zealand. What we will be looking to do is ensure that we have a regulatory reform that ensures the safety of New Zealanders, increases compliance with the legislation and reduces regulatory burdens on some."  

McKee believes for the Government to produce firearm reforms that keep people safe, "everything needs to be on the table".  

"That includes everybody in the conversation about how we have good arms law and then producing arms law that is enduring for the future, just like the 1983 Act was," she said. "That means everything needs to be on the table; the good, the bad and the ugly so that pure and good conversations can be had to make sure we do get that enduring legislation." 

During its existence, the Arms Act has had many iterations over the past four decades and has been home to New Zealand's gun laws.   

McKee told AM gun crime has gone up during the past six years under the previous Labour Government, which she puts down to weapons getting into the hands of gang members.   

"In 2019 and 2020, we saw legislative changes that actually have made New Zealand a less safe place," she told AM.   

"An example of this is gun crime has been on the increase by gang members alone."  

She pointed to New Zealand having an average of 2.8 firearm offences per day committed by gang members between May 2022 and May 17, 2023.   

McKee was asked by Burr if she could promise the coalition Government's new reforms won't make it easier for criminals and gang members to get their hands on firearms.   

"I will absolutely confirm that," she replied. "The regime that we want to introduce introduces a new licensing system. It's a graduated system that means not anyone can just get access to what is currently prohibited firearms, but they need to go through a five-year introduction and prove themselves as being legitimate, fit for purpose and fit and proper people... to be in possession.   

"Gang members were never going to meet that criteria. They would not meet our criteria and, therefore, should not be in possession."  

Watch the full video for more.