How will my medical practitioner know I have a firearms licence?
To complete the application for a firearms licence, an applicant will need to provide Police with the name and contact details of their health practitioner (Doctor or medical practice).
When a person’s application is approved Police will inform the health practitioner that the person has been granted a firearms licence. This change takes effect in six months.
This is so health practitioners can consider notifying Police if a licence holder’s health condition is such that in the interests of the safety of individuals or the public, the licence holder should not be permitted to possess firearms (or should only be able to possess firearms with limitations).
If Police receive such a report from a health practitioner, the person may be asked to undergo an independent medical assessment.
Do I need to tell Police if I have changed health practitioner?
Yes. When you move to a new medical practice or change doctor you must tell Police the name of the medical practice / practitioner and their contact details.
Police will contact the practitioner to advise them that you are a firearms licence holder.
Minister’s advisory group
When will we know who is on the new advisory group?
The new law enables this group to be established and that will take place over the next few months to enable this group to be consulted on further policy development. There will be up to nine people on the group including the Chairperson. When they are appointed, notice of that appointment will be published in the Gazette.
How will members be chosen for the advisory group?
The group will be made up of people from within and outside the firearms community, including people who are concerned about the mitigation of harm from firearms from a health perspective. The Minister of Police will appoint the Chairperson and the members.
What will the group do?
The group will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Police on matters that contribute to achieving the objectives of the Arms Act, in particular, the safe use and control of firearms. It can provide advice on any matter relating to firearms in New Zealand, including legislative proposal, policies for regulating New Zealand’s firearms regime, and the promotion of firearm safety.
It must produce an annual report of its proceedings and operations during the year.
New penalties and offences
Will there be a grace period with the new penalties?
Most of the new and updated offences and penalties come into effect and apply immediately.
Police have to apply the law at the relevant time the conduct occurred. When deciding whether to prosecute for any offence, Police have to apply the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines which require consideration of both whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, and also whether there is a public interest in prosecuting.
If I was charged with an offence recently and the penalty has been increased by the new laws, which penalties will I face?
If the conduct that you are charged with occurred before the law changed, the case will proceed on the basis of the law that applied at that time.
When will the registry come into effect?
The Firearms Registry will be developed over the next three years. Once it is up and running, firearms owners will be required to enter information into the register over five years as they engage with the licensing system, such as when applying for a licence or buying or selling a firearm.
The registry is expected to be operational within three years of enactment of the Act and can go live earlier under Order in Council.
How will it work?
The operation of the registry will have some similarities with the transactions of the motor vehicle register operated by the NZ Transport Agency.
Information belonging to firearms licence holders will be shifted onto the register over five years as they engage with the licensing system, such as when renewing their licence or buying or selling a firearm. If an existing licence holder does none of these processes in the five-year period, they will be required to enter the information in the registry at the end of the five-year period.
Items that individuals or Police will place on the secure register will be the licence holder’s full name, date of birth, and address, the details of their licence number, and any endorsements. It will also include details of all firearms in each licence holder’s possession, including standard sporting and hunting firearms, prohibited firearms, pistols, restricted weapons, and prohibited magazines, and each item’s identifying markings.
The registry will be online with a paper-based notification option also available for people without easy access to computers or good connectivity. Private sales will still be permitted but details of the transactions must be recorded on the register.
When will the new unit be established?
In November 2021 it was announced that Police will establish a new dedicated arms business unit within Police by December 2022 to take over accountability for the regulatory functions under the Arms Act 1983.
The unit will be responsible for implementing changes resulting from the Arms Legislation Act 2020 and planned operational improvements in response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCOI) into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain.
The purpose of the unit is to bolster public safety by reducing the risk of misuse of firearms, and preventing people from becoming victims of firearms crime and harm.
For more information read the previous Police Minister’s press release.