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New Police Firearms Regulatory Unit Announced

November 13 2021 @ 21:30 hr

In announcing a new Firearm Regulatory Unit “separate from, but still aligned to Police” Police Minister Hon. Poto Williams has reneged on a previous commitment by Labour to set up an Independent Firearm Authority to administer the Arms Act.

She went on to claim “This Government has a strong track record on tackling gun crime. Already we have prohibited the most dangerous firearms.”

As Neville Dodd, President of SSANZ points out, “The 60,000+ firearms confiscated by the government existed in the community for 28 years without a problem, that is until police failed in their duty to properly vet a foreign terrorist.

We therefore question why the regulation of the Arms Act is still being left with Police. In SSANZ view it is very wrong for Police to be both the regulating authority and also the enforcement agency in dealing with firearms. This represents a clear conflict of interest that would not be acceptable in most professional organisations.

SSANZ welcomes the new planned Regulatory Unit but strongly believe it must be completely independent of police if it is to have the trust and confidence of the firearm community. We will watch with interest as the new model is developed and trust that it will include local offices where customers can interact with real people, rather than a purely faceless web based operation.

We would like to see a substantial financial investment in the new Authority. Anyone who has recently been through either the licensing or re-licensing system will know that the current process is overwhelmed and under-resourced. It is ridiculous that police are taking from 6 to 9 months for licence renewals. A strong focus from the government on investment in additional staff, systems, technology and other resources will be needed if the new Authority has any chance of succeeding where the current system has floundered.

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We look forward to more information on the key performance indicators for the new Authority, particularly with regard to (1) improving application processing times, (2) making a real difference in reducing gun crime and (3) identifying the sources of gun crime and the supply chains of illegally-held weapons.

Since over 60,000 firearms were confiscated from law abiding licensed firearm owners, more stringent regulations applied to lawful ownership and tougher penalties were introduced for gun crime, we have seen a steady increase in gun related violence perpetrated largely by gang members. So how have all these new laws made New Zealanders safer – a question which has also been asked by the Office of the Auditor General.

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