New Zealand Law Society - Government responds to select committee firearms report

Government responds to select committee firearms report

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The government has released its response to parliament's Law and Order Committee report on issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms.

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the committee made 20 recommendations and she has accepted seven, rejected 12 and recommended one proceed with changes.

“We needed to strike the right balance between public safety and the rights of legal firearms owners. Although the report was well intended, I believe many of the recommendations would not decrease the flow of firearms to criminals and gangs but would unduly impact on legally licenced firearms users," Ms Bennett says.

“I appointed two independent firearms experts to advise me. I’ve listened to their advice, advice from Police, read the recommendations from the select committee and I’ve taken on board feedback from the public.

“After careful consideration I have added two more recommendations to my response. One proposes the introduction of the power to suspend licences pending decision on revocation. This will give Police an alternative to cancelling a licence, for example in situations where someone has been charged with family violence, or where there are security issues that need to be resolved.

“I’m also proposing a Ministerial direction to the Police to require consultation with the firearms community when considering changes to the Arms Act and the interpretation of it."

Ms Bennett says a policy process with consultation will now commence and the matter will come back to Cabinet for approval later in 2017.

The select committee's report, Inquiry into issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand, was released in April 2017.

The inquiry followed the seizure of 14 illegally owned firearms, including military-style semi-automatic weapons, from a home in Takanini in March 2016.

The committee met between 16 March 2016 and 5 April 2017 to consider the inquiry. It received 102 submissions from organisations and individuals and heard oral evidence from 20 submitters, as well as advice from the New Zealand Police.

The committee made 20 recommendations. The New Zealand First party committee members said they could not support the general thrust or direction of the report or many of the recommendations.

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