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Gun register coming as Government continues post-terrorist attack overhaul of firearms laws

The second wave of gun reforms have been signed off, the Prime Minister announced today, with a gun register to be created, gun licence length dropping from 10 years to five and police being given additional powers to put warning flags over people. 

Parliament made sweeping changes to New Zealand's gun laws following the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack that saw 51 people killed. 

The first tranche of changes was passed into law in April, which saw a ban on semi-automatic weapons and military style semi-automatics, a ban on parts, magazines and ammunition that could be used for modification into a semi-automatic, and a ban on pump-action shotguns with more than a five shot capacity.

Today, Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Stuart Nash announced the second tranche of changes to New Zealand's gun law. 

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A tougher licensing system is also part of key proposals unveiled by the Government today. Source: 1 NEWS

"In April, we acted to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation by prohibiting assault rifles and military style semi-automatics," Ms Ardern said. "Now we are moving to stop other firearms falling into the wrong hands."

The new rules are expected to cost between $42-$52 million over the next 10 years and the Government wants the proposals made into law by January 1, 2020. 

"It has been 129 days since 51 Kiwis suffered fatal injuries and a dozen more were seriously injured," Ms Ardern said, referring to the Christchurch terrorist attack.

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A total of 1055 prohibited firearms were handed in at events across the country. Source: 1 NEWS

She said the terrorist attack caused New Zealand to rethink "many things, and that included our gun laws".

Speaking to media today, Ms Ardern told stories of those who had handed in their guns, including a man who was at Christchurch Hospital the day after the terrorist attack and saw 35 hearses leave.

"There is a new normal around firearms."

The age at which a person can own a gun - 16 - would be kept the same, Ms Ardern said.  

The latest raft of changes include establishing a register of firearms and licence holders over the next five years, requiring gun licences to be renewed every five years as opposed to 10 and creating a system to allow warning flags for intervention by police if there are concerns about an individual. 

It also proposes to make shooting clubs and ranges to come under the law with a licensing system, place controls on gun advertising and to require a licence to buy magazines, parts and ammunition.

It will also become law that owning a firearm would be a "privilege and comes with an obligation to demonstrate a high level of safety and responsibility".

It would be harder to obtain a licence, with individuals needing to demonstrate knowledge and skills about firearm safety. A person will be disqualified from holding a gun licence if they have convictions for a serious crime such as violence, gang activity, misuse of drugs, firearms offences, or having a protection order made against them in the last 10 years. 

Ms Ardern described the current guns laws as "dangerously out date". 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"Successive governments have known since the Thorp review of 1997 that our gun laws were too weak. Further attempts to change the system in 2005 and 2016 both failed.

"The changes announced today have been decades in the making. It is now up to this Parliament to deliver in the interests of public and personal safety."

Police Minister Stuart Nash said "owning a gun is a privilege, not a right". 

"Under the current law, we do not know exactly how many guns are in circulation, who owns them, who is selling them, who is buying them, or how securely they are stored against the risk of theft or misuse.

"There are more than 260 shooting clubs and ranges which operate without any system of licensing.

"Police have very few options for intervening when they see concerning behaviour. Revoking a firearms licence can only happen for the most serious cases and can take weeks, during which time the guns can be given away or disappear without trace.

"There are higher penalties for unlawfully taking fish than for some firearms offences. It is cheaper to get a gun licence than a dog licence," Mr Nash said. 

"We owe it to the victims and the survivors of the mosque terror attacks to make these changes. We owe it to other members of the community, such as victims of family harm or aggravated robberies, to tighten our gun laws."

Mr Nash said as of last night, more than 3,200 firearms and 7,800 parts had been handed in. More than $6.1 million in compensation to gun owners has been paid out. 

National's police spokesperson Brett Hudson said the party was concerned the second raft of changes "focusses on imposing more regulation and costs on law abiding New Zealanders".

"Instead, it should be getting tough on illegal firearms users, the importation of illegal firearms and gangs."

Federated Farmers expected support for the changes, but rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson said registration of firearms remained contentious. 

"We haven't had a firearms register in New Zealand for almost 40 years. The successful re-establishment of one now would require a considerable investment, both economically and socially.

"We are very interested in how the Police propose to practically manage common activities such as the loaning of firearms between two licensed individuals."

The Police Association welcomed the Government’s announcement of a register.

"The value of a firearms register in the case of the Christchurch shootings would have been in the red flag raised by a licensed individual buying multiple firearms in a short period of time, as was the case with the accused shooter," president Chris Cahill said.

"A register will also provide valuable intelligence on the number of firearms registered to an address, and this should help police officers turning up to volatile family harm incidents, which account for a huge percentage of an officer's daily work."

In Budget 2019, $150 million was put aside for the firearms buy back scheme, and $18 million for the implementation of the scheme.

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Police Minister Stuart Nash and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

April's 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll showed the majority of New Zealand voters believed the Government's move to enact new gun laws had been "about right" in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks. 

ACT leader David Seymour was the only MP to vote against the first tranche of changes.

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The Prime Minister details the second phase of the post-terrorist attack overhaul of the country’s gun laws. Source: 1 NEWS