The following changes come into effect on 24 December and affect all applicants for firearms licences, and licence holders.
The Act now sets out some discretionary criteria that may be taken into account when determining if someone is a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm (s24A).
It also sets out some criteria that disqualify a person from holding a licence (s22H).
Some of the criteria that Police may take into account when determining if someone is fit and proper to possess firearms or airguns include whether (s24A):
- The person is charged with, or has been convicted of, in New Zealand or overseas that are punishable by a term of imprisonment
- The person is charged with or convicted of an offence under the Arms Act
- The person has been charged with or convicted of an offence against section 231A of the Crimes Act 1961 (entry onto agricultural land with intent to commit imprisonable offence), the Game Animal Council Act 2013, the Wildlife Act 1953, or the Wild Animal Control Act 1977
- The person has inflicted or is inflicting family violence; is or has been at any time the subject of a temporary protection order; or has, or has had, a restraining order made against them
- The person is a member of, or has close affiliations with a gang or organised criminal group
- The person uses drugs (illegal or legal) in a way that detrimentally affects their judgement or behaviour
- The person abuses alcohol (or is dependent on alcohol) to an extent that detrimentally affects their judgement or behaviour
- The person shows (or has recently shown) symptoms of a mental or physical illness or injury that may adversely affect their ability to safely possess firearms
- The person has shown patterns of behaviour demonstrating a tendency to exhibit, encourage, or promote violence, hatred, or extremism
- The person has engaged in conduct involving non-compliance with the requirements of the Arms Act, the regulations, or conditions on any permits, endorsements or licences issued under the Act
- The person has been assessed as a risk to a State’s national security
In determining whether a person is fit and proper to possess firearms or airguns Police may take into account:
- Whether the applicant has a sound knowledge of the safe possession and use of firearms
- Understands the legal obligations of a licence holder
- Any other relevant matters that are considered appropriate to the application
The criteria will not be applied retrospectively to reassess current licence holders but will be considered when Police respond to new actions by a current licence holder after the commencement date of section 24A.
If prejudicial information is going to be taken into account, Police must disclose this to the applicant and give them an opportunity to respond. Exceptions to doing this apply where disclosure is likely to endanger the safety of any person, or prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand or New Zealand’s international relations, or prejudice the entrusting of information to Police or the security services of New Zealand (s 24A(4)-(5)).