1 Feb 2022

New firearms laws won't change situation overnight - Police minister

9:05 am on 1 February 2022

New firearm laws come into effect today, including more stringent vetting for licences and tougher rules for ammunition sellers.

No caption

Police Minister Poto Williams Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Arms Amendment Regulations 2021 is the latest tranche of changes made following the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Among them, new vetting rules will require those seeking a firearms licence to list the countries they have visited in the past five years.

Under the law change, any country in which a person stayed in for longer than two weeks will need to be listed in their application, and their length of stay.

Police Minister Poto Williams told Morning Report while the new laws may mean less people have a firearms licence, it's not necessarily so.

"Currently, because we haven't had a register for nearly 30 years, we have no idea how many firearms there are in our community and that is an issue for us," she said.

"It may be that people who want firearms who currently don't have a firearms licence may be able to get one. It really is about the application of a much more stringent fit and proper person test, much clearer vetting of people, much better handle on their associations."

The current laws aren't fit enough to ensure the right processes are in place to check people with firearms, she said.

"This is not going to change the situation overnight but ... if we don't do this we will not be able to have an ability to keep our communities safe from firearms violence."

Gun Control NZ's co-founder Phillipa Yasbek said it will help the police identify red flags among any travel patterns.

She said although the new rule is a small change, it's a good one.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs