The Government's second tranche of gun law reform has been watered down to protect people's privacy and not unduly punish law-abiding firearms owners.

But Gun Control NZ says the Arms Legislation Bill has been watered down too much, and is calling the loosening of proposed advertising restrictions a cop-out.

The bill was reported back from the finance and expenditure committee on Monday with a raft of recommended changes.

The original bill would have introduced a number of changes, including a national gun register, a potential ban on firearms advertising, tougher tests to be granted a firearms licence, and having those licences expire after five years instead of the current 10 years.


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The committee has made a number of recommended changes to the bill, including:

• Firearms that are temporarily transferred for less than 30 days, such as for hunting trips, would not need to be added to the national gun register

• Following advice from the Privacy Commissioner, Government departments would have restricted access to the register, which was previously too broad and open to abuse

• Firearms advertising would need to carry safety information and legal requirements; it was previously up to the police, which raised concerns that it could lead to a total advertising ban

• A successful applicant's first firearms licence would expire after five years, but subsequent successful applications would expire after 10 years

The committee said halving the licence period for all licences to five years could have led to a larger workload for police and an overly onerous process for law-abiding firearms owners.

But Gun Control NZ co-founder Philippa Yasbek said the Government's own data showed that young gun owners were much more likely to engage in criminal activity than the average person.


"For those who get a firearms licence as a teenager, 31 per cent have been convicted of an offence by the time they are 20. By the time they're 30, 45 per cent of them have a conviction.

"This is almost double the conviction rate of the rest of the population. At the very least, new licence holders should be vetted every five years until they've held a licence for 15 years."

Gun Control NZ co-founder Nik Green said that the committee's loosening of advertising requirements was a cop-out.

"Gun advertising should be regulated like alcohol. You can't advertise alcohol in a way that promotes irresponsible behaviour.

"We need to similarly prevent the glamourisation of firearms. The select committee has copped out here."

The committee has largely kept the controversial part of the bill allowing health practitioners to notify police if they think a person's health might make them unfit to use or possess a firearm.

Police would also be obliged to tell doctors about patients who have been granted a firearms licence.

The committee has also kept the guidelines for police to determine who qualifies as a fit and proper person for a firearms licence, including if someone has any convictions for violent offending.

But historic charges have been dropped friom the guildelines, while active charges have been added.

"We consider that a historic charge (but not a historic offence) might be of limited relevance," the committee's report said.

The Government's second tranche of gun law reform was a response to the March 15 terrorist attacks last year. Photo / Amber Allott
The Government's second tranche of gun law reform was a response to the March 15 terrorist attacks last year. Photo / Amber Allott

The National Party issued a minority report saying it did not support the bill as it did not target criminal activity.

National MPs on the committee were particularly concerned about police advising health practitioners about patients who hold a firearms licence.

"[This] will result in the private information of around 250,000 New Zealanders being disclosed," National's report said.

Act also issued a minority report asking why the bill had been sent to the finance and expenditure committee.

"It is difficult to avoid thinking that the Government has cynically sent the bill to a committee that usually deals with financial matters simply because it has a majority on this committee (but not the more logical Justice Committee)," Act's report said.

"It is difficult to avoid thinking the Government has prioritised political theatrics over public safety."

Act wants the bill shelved until the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch tragedy has reported back.

The bill is expected to have its second reading next week.