NZ Police is reviewing the fees charged for firearms licenses and endorsements.
Despite rising costs, firearms licencing fees have remained static since 1999 – other than GST adjustments – and the cost of delivering arms regulatory services has risen substantially during that time, NZ Police said.
Deputy commissioner Jevon McSkimming said a greater contribution towards the cost of providing regulatory services (licences, endorsements, permits, approvals) is being sought. This contribution
will be sought from licence holders whether they use firearms for business, employment, or recreation.
“At the moment, licence holders are paying less than 15% of the true cost of a licence,” McSkimming said.
“Even if the current firearms licence fee was doubled, it would fall well short of the actual cost.
“Increasing the fee for a firearms licence from $126.50 to $242.50 still requires a Crown contribution of 75%.
“This review is about exploring different levels of Crown funding and fees for those who use the services of licensing, permitting and approvals. We want to make it more equitable for all.”
NZ Police added that some services of direct commercial and private benefit, such as applications for import permits, are currently delivered for free.
McSkimming said firearms applications are being processed faster, with the average time for a second or subsequent firearms licence application having reduced from nine months in May 2022, to seven months in October.
“We expect to see this downward trend continue. With 35% more licence applications completed this year, our pipeline of applications is reducing each month.”
The Police is consulting on three partial cost recovery options:
- Option A: partial 25% of cost (75% subsidy)
- Option B: partial 50% of cost (50% subsidy)
- Option C: partial 75% of cost (25% subsidy)
The options proposed are based on the level of Crown subsidy of the estimated full cost of either the five-year or 10-year license.
A discussion document released states that “there could be an investigation into the possibility of payment by instalment. This option would only be explored if the licence holders contributed more than 50% of the cost of obtaining a firearms licence.”
The document further explores the advantages and disadvantages of the three options: “Options B and C better reflect that the possession and use of a firearm is a privilege and those who exercise that privilege must act in the interests of personal and public safety.
“Option B and C go some way to reducing excess demand for a licence from those who may not need a firearms licence for work or recreational purposes but have obtained one because it is cheap and consider they may at some time want or need to use a firearm.”
Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) said raising firearms license fees could lead to more unlicensed firearms.
“Police are reaching into the pockets of firearms owners to fund excessive paperwork processes that are abysmally operated and do not improve public safety,” said COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack.
“We understand the need for fees to be moved up, as they haven’t moved for more than 20 years, however, an increase in fees for this mess is an insult. Kiwis out on the farm and people keeping pests away from our native birds and flora are being asked to pay so the Police can hire more Wellington pen-pushers.
“In these hard times, raising fees could push many firearm users to forego their license, stock up on ammo, and store their firearms in a safe place for the summer.”
The full discussion document Arms Regulations Review of Fees invites public submissions until 16 February 2023 and can be viewed at police.govt.nz.
All submissions will be assessed and considered by Cabinet.