'High risk' people soon to be banned from owning firearms

The Government is bringing in Firearm Protection Orders - meaning specific, "high risk" people cannot own, use or access a firearm, in a move targeting gangs and organised crime.

Police Minister Poto Williams said it was a "privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country and we need to take that ability out of the hands of people who pose a threat to our communities".

"Firearms Prohibition Orders provide an extra tool for Police to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, and to keep our communities safe," she said. 

Williams said the orders would "strengthen action already taken to combat the influence of gangs and organised crime".

The Government will also bring in a new law to enable the seizure of assets from people associated with organised crime. 

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said it would hit gangs "where it hurts – their pockets".

"This new organised crime power will help prevent those involved in organised crime from benefiting from crime and remove the primary reason for organised crime to exist – the profits they can make from vulnerable New Zealanders."

“Those involved in organised crime, including those who launder their money, would have to demonstrate their assets were obtained legitimately.

Firearm Protection Orders was mulled by the Government in 2019, with then-Police Minister Stuart Nash wanting to "ensure high-risk individuals come nowhere near firearms". 

Nash acknowledged at the time 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". 

National at the time was calling for Firearm Protection Orders, lodging a Member's Bill to apply for the "toughest gang members with serious offending histories". 

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

Today, National leader Judith Collins called today's proposed law "toothless". 

She called it a "good start, but what we’ve seen and what’s been announced lacks teeth and any legislation needs to have teeth otherwise there’s not much point".

"Gangs are a problem for all New Zealand."

ACT accused the Government of adopting its own proposed law , put forward by MP Nicole McKee in March on increasing the power of police to seize assets connected with large scale criminal activity. 

"I give credit to the Government for starting to the turn the dial from targeting law abiding citizens, to finally targeting violent criminals and gangs," McKee said.