Submissions open on gun reform bill

Tue 08 Oct 2019

Submissions are open on the Government's recently introduced bill to tighten gun laws.

Shelves containing folders and records

The deadline for making a submission is 23 October 2019. The deadline for making a submission on Supplementary Order Paper 408 related to Arms Legislation Bill is 29 November 2019.

The Arms Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament and referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee. The omnibus bill amends the Arms Act 1983 and other enactments. The bill seeks to "improve public safety by adjusting legislative frameworks to impose tighter controls on the use and possession of arms."

The Beehive release introducing the bill Tighter gun laws for the safety of all (13 Sept 2019) describes key proposed changes:

  • "The creation of a firearms registry to enable the monitoring and tracking of every firearm legally held in New Zealand.
  • Changing the length of the time of issue for a firearms licence from 10 years to five years.
  • The creation of a licensing regime for shooting clubs and ranges.
  • A requirement to be a licence holder in order to purchase and hold firearm parts, magazines, and ammunition.
  • Strengthening and tightening the rules in the licensing regimes for individuals and dealers.
  • Conditions on firearms licences and changes to endorsements.
  • Updated and new offences and penalties.
  • Provisions to enable health practitioners to notify Police if they have concerns about a licence firearms owner’s health or wellbeing.
  • New Mechanisms and options for dealing with firearm licence holders who breach conditions of the Act or Regulations.
  • Strengthening regulatory oversight on importation and sales.
  • Changes to the cost recovery regime that will enable fees to be set out in regulations for a range of regulatory services."

The Question and Answer section describes some proposed changes specifically relevant to family violence including:

  • Individual licence holders will be disqualified from holding a firearms licence "... if in the previous ten years they have convictions, or been released from custody for serious crimes such as violence; misuse of drugs; firearms offences; or having a protection order in force against them."
  • Warning flags in the licensing system that may indicate a person may not be a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence include: "encouraging or promoting violence; hatred or extremism; serious mental ill-health issues including attempted suicide; having had various offences under the Wildlife Act or Wild Animal Control Act; being assessed as a risk to national security; having a temporary Protection Order; being involved in drug abuse; or being convicted of certain crimes."
  • "The government has asked Police to do more work to design a system of firearms prohibition orders to restrict access to firearms by serious violent offenders. Cabinet will discuss options later this year and the public will be asked for feedback on the potential shape of such a regime."

In the bill, Clause 33Clause 36 and Clause 38 relate specifically to family violence. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the current Arms Act is "no longer fit for purpose." Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Christchurch terror attack "... exposed weaknesses in legislation which we have the power to fix. We would not be a responsible Government if we didn’t address them."

The Cabinet Minute decision, Strengthening the Framework for the Safe Use and Control of Firearms - Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee Minute of Decision (July 2019), has been proactively released.

For more information about the bill see a summary of proposed changes from the NZ Law Society and an earlier Beehive release New emphasis on public safety for firearms (22 July 2019).

This bill follows the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Act, which became law on 11 April 2019 following the Christchurch terror attack.

Update: The Finance and Expenditure Committee has reported back on the the Arms Legislation Bill and the related Supplementary Order Paper 408. By majority, the committee recommended that the bill be passed with a number of recommended changes. For more information see the full report. The Arms Legislation Act 2020 received Royal Assent in June 2020.

Information and submission

Gun Control NZ , a group of volunteers "reacting to the Christchurch atrocities, aiming to speak up for other ordinary New Zealanders" has set up a website with information and a submission you can add your name to.

Gun law reform and family violence

The most recent report from the Family Violence Death Review Committee found between 2009 to 2015, there were 9 or 10 intimate partner violence deaths in which the method of killing was a gun. In eight of these, the primary aggressor or suspected primary aggressor was a male who killed his female partner who was the primary victim or suspected primary victim. For more information see the Fifth Report Data: January 2009 to December 2015 (Family Violence Death Review Committee, 2017, page 50).

Earlier in 2019, news outlet Stuff published The Homicide Report, which compiles information on homicides in New Zealand between January 2004 to March 2019. Stuff published a number of articles that explored findings from this information including the murder of Leigh Wallace by her former partner who used a gun despite police revoking his gun license and seizing his guns.

Research has explored the links between family violence and gun violence including child abuse, intimate partner violence and gun reform. For more information see the following:

Aotearoa New Zealand

The intersection of firearms and intimate partner homicide in 15 nations by AM Zeoli, R Malinski, and H Brenner published in Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 2017 (includes New Zealand data)

Late-life homicide-suicide: a national case series in New Zealand by G Cheung, SH Friedman and F Sundram published in Psychogeriatrics, 2015


Update: The role of domestic violence in fatal mass shootings in the United States, 2014–2019 by Lisa B. Geller, Marisa Booty & Cassandra K. Crifasi published in Injury Epidemiology, 2021.

Non-Fatal Firearm Uses in Domestic Violence by AM Zeoli published by The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms, 2017

Children, domestic violence, and guns by AM Zeoli published by the The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms, 2018

Domestic Violence-Related Mass and Spree Killings - webinar recording from the Battered Women's Justice Project, 2018

Removing Firearms from those Prohibited from Possession by Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: A Survey and Analysis of State Laws by AM Zeoli, S Frattaroli, K Roskam and AK Herrera published in Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 2017 

Also see the US-based National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms.

International - Links between gender and gun violence or violent extremism

Gender mainstreaming principles, dimensions and priorities for PVE [preventing violent extremism] by K Brown, J Huckerby and LJ Shepherd published by UN Women, 2019

Recognizing the violent extremist ideology of ‘Incels’ by S Zimmerman, L Ryan and D Duriesmith published by Women in International Security, 2018

Violence prevention: the evidence: guns, knives and pesticides: reducing access to lethal means from John Moores University and the World Health Organization, 2009

Related media

Strong public support for gun registry, but Act doubles down on repeal plans, NZ Herald, 08.08.2023

Majority of Kiwis support gun registry - Gun Control NZ, Voxy, 08.08.2023

Tracking the guns, RNZ, 21.06.2021

Milestone reached in the delivery of new Firearms Registry, Beehive media release, 11.05.2023

NSW Police accepts responsibility for John Edwards murdering his two teenage children, ABC News [Australia], 12.04.2021

Firearms reform set to progress in Parliament, RNZ, 16.06.2020

Further firearms changes signalled, Beehive media release 16.06.2020

Mosque terrorist was wrongly granted firearms licence due to police mistakes, sources say, Stuff, 16.06.2020

Firearms reforms must protect fundamental human rights, Press Release: Amnesty International, Scoop, 30.10.2019

10,000 gun licence holders have convictions for violence or sexual offending, Stuff, 27.10.2019

Gun register bill passes first reading in Parliament, Stuff, 24.09.2019

Government wants gun register, tighter rules on firearms licences, ban on visitors buying weapons, NZ Herald, 23.09.2019

Police Minister Stuart Nash backs firearm register, unwilling to limit firearm caches, Stuff, 13.05.2019

The Homicide Report gives a detailed account of gun violence in New Zealand, Stuff, 13.05.2019

Why gun reform is desperately needed, Newsroom, 19.03.2019

We warned you. We begged. We pleaded. And now we demand accountability, The Spinoff, 17.03.2019

Image: Marcus Trapp from Pixabay

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