Question-mark from farmers over proposed firearms register

Federated Farmers has raised concerns about a proposed firearms register saying there would likely be misgivings about the practicality and cost from the rural community.

The proposal is included in the second tranche of proposed gun law changes announced by the Prime Minister.

The next Arms Amendment Bill - following the ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles - would include establishing a firearms register and requiring licences to be renewed every five years.  

It will also "enshrine in law that owning a firearm is a privilege and comes with an obligation to demonstrate a high level of safety and responsibility". 

Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

Miles Anderson said farmers would have concerns about a proposed firearms register.
Miles Anderson said farmers would have concerns about a proposed firearms register. Photo credit: Supplied

"When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully, some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that," he said.

However, the registration of firearms is contentious in the rural sector. 

Federated Farmers has previously opposed the compulsory registration of all firearms, based on the complexity and cost of this process, questionable safety benefits and the likelihood of success. '

"We haven't had a firearms register in New Zealand for almost 40 years. The successful re-establishment of one now would require a considerable investment, both economically and socially," said Anderson.

"We are very interested in how the Police propose to practically manage common activities such as the loaning of firearms between two licensed individuals."

He said Federated Farmers would consult with its members on the whole range of amendments before making a submission on the proposals.

"We are pleased to see that this time there is a reasonable consultation period. This is a very important issue for farmers and we need to get it right."

The group is also keen to see changes to the earlier amendments to the Arms Act. 

Anderson said since the initial changes in April, the current pest management criteria had been proven to not work for those farmers and land managers who still need semi-automatic centrefire rifles for pest management.

"Pest animals can be found in very high numbers on some private land and the right tool is needed to control them humanely and effectively."

He said continued access to these firearms under strict controls was essential for both our primary industries and indigenous biodiversity. 

"We will use the second round of consultation to revisit this important issue with the select committee."