New Conservative takes constructive feedback on our policies very seriously. Here is our latest on Firearms:
New Conservative will repeal the recent Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019 and any subsequent amendments.
Licensing of Firearms Owners
The licensing of firearm owners needs to be uniform throughout New Zealand with those entrusted with the licensing and administration of the Arms Act to be provided with a high level of training so that they are equipped to identify those unsuitable to hold a licence.
Only New Zealand citizens, or Permanent Residents with a minimum of 5 year residency, will be eligible to hold a New Zealand firearms licence.
Data sharing with Australia will be put in place to ensure that proper background checks can be carried out. There will be an emphasis on enforcement of existing laws so patched gang members and known affiliates will be banned from owning firearms
Firearms Licence and Endorsements
The holder of a standard Firearms Licence (i.e. without endorsements) will be able to own rifles and shotguns that are not semi-automatic action nor automatic action.
The holder of a Firearms Licence may apply for endorsements as they are specified in the Arms Act prior to the 2019 amendments. With the exception of the “E” endorsement, other endorsements as specified in the Arms Act prior to the 2019 amendments will remain unchanged.
The “E” category endorsement will be amended so that:
A licence holder must have an ‘E’ endorsement in order to purchase any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun (discarding the old “MSSA” definition); and
An ‘E’ endorsement will be required to purchase and own magazines that can be used in any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun; and
Excluding rimfire rifles, 22 calibre or less, as long as they have a magazine (whether detachable or not) that holds 10 rounds or less; and
Excluding semi-automatic shotguns that have non-detachable, tubular magazines that hold 5 rounds or less.
There will be a minimum 12 month transition period from the date these changes are made.
Administration of the Arms Act
Proper consideration will be undertaken of the option to remove the administration of the Arms Act from Police by the establishment of a separate statutory authority (similar in concept to the arrangement where NZTA administers driver licencing).
New Conservative will work with Ministry of Justice policy experts to create an acceleration scale in the Sentencing Act 2002.
This will provide a mandatory minimum sentence for crimes where a firearm or other deadly weapon is used.
Background and Discussion:
New Conservative has been working on its firearms policy since late 2018 in consultation with the Firearms Community. The events of March 15 2019, and the unseemly use of this terrorist event to rush through firearms legislation without consultation, has highlighted the shortcomings of our parliamentary system.
The role of government is not to simply react in an emotional manner to the events of the world. A democratic government is elected by the people of New Zealand to govern on behalf of everyone. Parliament is entrusted to do that in a considered manner and to make fact based decisions.
While considering what measures are required for safe communities, there has to be full consideration and safeguarding of the rights of minorities, not just the ones that voted for the government, along with the rights of all individual New Zealanders – the rights and freedoms that our forebears fought and died for so that they could gift them on to us. Government is not about mob rule or ‘feel good’ reactions. Diminution of individual and minority rights should be guarded against with the utmost vigilance.
The policy above is a framework for discussion. Changes if any to the Arms Act would be undertaken only after a full and comprehensive consultation with affected owners and users. The current changes to legislation are rushed, unsatisfactory, confused and unjust with no apparent public safety benefit.
New Conservative is committed to true democratic principles and the right of New Zealanders to own and use firearms in a responsible manner. This is similar to the regimes in place in France and other European countries with much higher security and terror concerns, striking a balance between security needs to ensure general public safety and the use by law-abiding citizens.
Legitimate Firearms use in New Zealand is one of the oldest forms of sport and recreation in this country, and ranges from competitive sport and hunting game to world class collections of historic firearms, military reenactments and our billion dollar a year film industry.
We will repeal the recent Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act 2019 and any subsequent amendments. In the spirit and application of a true democracy, and in a timely manner, we will consult with and thoroughly consider submissions from affected parties to implement policy that allows properly licensed users the ability to own and use firearms.
Historic levels of firearms crime is, by NZ Police statistics, about 1.4% of violent crime, itself about 17% of all crime, so actual firearms offending has been less than 0.25% of all crime. Firearms previously held by the 7,000 or so “E” endorsed licence holders, with much increased security requirements and annual audits, have never been involved in the commission of a firearms crime.
A universal registration of firearms has failed in those countries that have attempted it. Those with criminal intent will simply remove identification from stolen weapons so registration only works on the law abiding. A more effective strategy and application of tax dollars is to ensure proper enforcement of laws by New Zealand Police.
The results of the Royal Commission into the events surrounding the horror in Christchurch must be made public. The veil of secrecy that the current government has put in place is not appropriate. Worse, it means that even if there is a legislative response required, there is no possiblity of this being debated in any rational manner. Sadly rational debate and discussion have been entirely absent since March 15.
Of course, some of the changes that will be put in place, or have already occurred, in our security services may have to remain undisclosed to ensure their efficacy. However, any failings that occurred that allowed or enabled the events in Christchurch need to be made public before legislative changes that affect large numbers of New Zealand citizens are even considered.
New Conservative believes that the rushed legislation of April 2019, and subsequent legislation and regulations built on that, are not in the best interest of New Zealanders. Proper consultation and consideration of facts has been sadly lacking.
To this end we call on the current government to extend the ‘amnesty’ period until after the coming election.
Note: This policy is not legislation. It is a starting point for discussion and any changes to the law will only come after full submissions, consultation and deliberation with parties involved in a true democratic process.