• Neil Kirton

Customs Minister Neil Kirton said a display of some of the firearms seized by Customs firmly reinforces the need for strong border surveillance.

Mr Kirton said some of the 40 firearms seized by Customs in Auckland over the past two years include military style semi-automatic rifles and short barrel shotguns, both of which are illegal in New Zealand.

These types of weapons have been involved in serious incidents against people and property both here and overseas and the Customs Service is doing a very worthwhile job in keeping these weapons out of circulation in New Zealand.

Im also alarmed at some of the offensive weapons seized from individuals attempting to illegally bring them into the country. These weapons, which include knuckle dusters, sword sticks and flick knives have no place in New Zealand, Mr Kirton said.

The good news in this area, is that the number of these weapons being seized by Customs has dropped following publicity about this issue a year ago, but continued vigilance is required.

I fully support Customs submission to a current review of firearms legislation, where they are seeking changes to clarify the law.

A number of restricted weapons and firearms are currently being imported without a permit. They are held by Customs and eventually seized when a permit is formally refused by Police. Customs propose that in future any prohibited weapons or firearms brought into the country without a permit being obtained prior to importation will be seized.

Mr Kirton said another law change sought by Customs is proposed to more effectively control firearms brought into New Zealand by visiting yachts and ships.

These vessels quite legitimately carry firearms for their own protection while in international waters but there is the possibility of the firearms being misused or stolen while they are in New Zealand.

Yet, under current New Zealand law, these firearms are technically not imported and therefore not subject to the Arms Act. Customs therefore needs the cooperation of the owners to ensure the safe custody of the firearms whilst the yacht is in New Zealand.

While the majority of yachties and ships masters readily comply, this change will reinforce the message that New Zealand authorities take very seriously the issue of control of potentially dangerous weapons, Mr Kirton said.