• Clem Simich

The Government will today introduce the Arms Amendment Bill (No. 2) to Parliament, which will make it compulsory for gun owners to register their firearms.

The Government aims, through the passage of this legislation as part of a comprehensive firearms control strategy, to promote more responsible attitudes to firearm ownership and security, and to enhance law enforcement and the safety of the public. The public also has very legitimate concerns about the availability of firearms in New Zealand.

"We already have a robust licensing system to audit the suitability of users, but gun registration system is an important means to stem firearm thefts and illegal trading," says Police Minister Clem Simich. "Gun registration will make individual owners responsible for their use."

Through registration, Police will be able to record the location of firearms, reduce the transfer of firearms to criminals, trace the origin of firearms located, and encourage owners to comply with security requirements. Police will be alerted to people accumulating firearms, will be assisted in firearms seizure following domestic violence situations, and have better information about the weapons they may face when attending incidents or entering premises.

The Bill is a key feature of the Government's response to the Review of Firearms Control, conducted by Sir Thomas Thorp, which put forward a wide range of proposals to encourage safe firearms use.

"Gun registration is an essential component of a comprehensive firearms control strategy, which includes licensing and identification of high risk users, to ensure that all firearms users are "fit and proper" persons."

"These changes are based upon international experience in firearms control, particularly in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom."

The cost to register each firearm will be $7.50 per firearm for up to five firearms, and thereafter no charge. A $500 instant fine will be faced by people holding an unregistered firearm.

Mr Simich said he hoped the Bill would pass swiftly given the breadth of support for the legislation. The Government aims to have the Bill passed by 1 April 2000.