Associate justice minister Nicole McKee has unveiled a comprehensive plan to reform New Zealand’s firearms laws.

“The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated and complicated requirements that unfairly target licenced firearms owners, often with no clear benefit to public safety,” McKee said.

The reform initiative aims to rewrite the Act to modernise the law, with McKnee emphasising the need for a system that delivers “tangible safety outcomes for New Zealand communities.

“It is time we take a good look at the whole system and make the necessary changes to ensure that it is fit for purpose for New Zealand today and into the future.”

The reform programme, currently in its fourth phase, focuses on rewriting the Arms so that it “provides for greater public safety, reflects best regulatory practice, and is fit for purpose.”

“I expect to take advice on phase 4 in the coming months, with the aim of passing law changes before the end of the term,” McKnee said.

“I am really looking forward to phase 4 – it provides a unique opportunity to take a systematic and considered approach to our laws, in a way that hasn’t been done in over 40 years. Rather than the rushed ‘government-knows-best’ approach, that we have seen in the past, we will be consulting with New Zealanders to allow their views to be heard.”

The first two phases of the firearms reform programme are already well underway:

  • The Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Amendment Bill, introduced in the Government’s first 100 days, is currently before the Justice Committee. The Bill aims to strengthen the role of firearms prohibition orders and provide greater powers to search gang members for firearms.
  • A consultation process is underway for a package of proposals for the simple and effective regulation of shooting clubs.

Phase 3 includes a review of the Firearms Registry, announced on 1 June 2024, and the transfer of the Firearms Safety Authority from the Police to another Government department.

“I look forward to progressing this reform programme and to engaging with New Zealanders on these real and important issues. Together, we can deliver simple and effective regulation that contributes to the safety of New Zealand communities, reduces regulatory burden for licenced firearms owners, and increases compliance with the law.”