Government pitches further gun restrictions aimed at high-risk individuals

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Government is making moves to bring in even tougher gun laws aimed at stopping "high-risk people outside the licensing system" from holding guns. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash said today the proposal to bring in firearm prohibition orders (FPOs) would give police more power "to ensure high-risk individuals come nowhere near firearms". 

However, police say Māori men are likely be over-represented in the firearm prohibition orders and that the "very nature of FPOs constrain individual rights". 

It comes after Police Commissioner Mike Bush fronted up at Parliament last week, revealing to MPs that more than 100 gang leaders have been contacted by police as part of efforts to get them to hand over guns.

He admitted to reporters that gang leaders were "reluctant" to hand over their guns.

Mr Nash said the firearm prohibition orders would be aimed at "high-risk people outside the licensing system, in particular those with a history of violent offending, gun crimes or family harm". 

"FPOs would prevent people from being around others who have firearms, using them under supervision, or being at a location that enables access to guns.

"FPOs set conditions which people must follow, allow police to monitor the conditions, and create penalties for breaches."

Mr Nash acknowledged there were concerns around human rights in the proposal, which was why he wanted to hear the public’s view on "human rights versus community safety". 

It could mean a person under a firearm protection order would not be allowed to even visit a property where licenced firearms are held. 

For police, it could mean additional powers to search properties and to "investigate people whose behaviour cannot be regulated by a firearms licensing system". 

"FPOs are aimed at those who have already shown a disregard for the law through prior offending, which may include offending with firearms. They could be a gang member, or part of an extremist ideological group, or a person with a history of family harm," Mr Nash said. 

National recently lodged a Member's Bill to bring in FPOs applying "to the toughest gang members with serious offending histories". 

It was rejected by the Government for being "too narrow" in scope. Today, Mr Nash said it didn’t give police any additional search powers and was only focused on gangs.

National leader Simon Bridges said the Government "should just get on and do it". 

"It's a shame the Government voted down our bill when it was before Parliament and wouldn’t allow us to introduce it when we tried to again last month," Mr Bridges said. 

A FPO could stop a person from possessing, using, accessing, or being around firearms, parts or ammunition.

The Government wants feedback on the proposal by January 13, 2020.