ACT New Zealand promotes free markets, free ideas, personal responsibility and personal accountability – all those principles progressive, virtue-signalling governments oppose – and while they support the concept philosophically, the current bill needs a lot more work before they can support it further.
“We fully support the intention of going after the gangs and illegal firearms, but this bill needs more work before ACT can support it at future stages,” says Nicole McKee, Firearms Spokesperson for ACT New Zealand.
Their primary concern is the proposed bill does not protect innocent citizens from getting caught up in this new regulatory net.
“There are also questions about the potential culpability of dealers who supply items that don’t require a firearms licence to purchase or own to customers who are the subject of an Firearms Prohibition Order (FPO). There are no details about how a business owner or a licensed firearms owner is to know an FPO has been placed on an individual,” McKee said.
More Virtue Signalling?
The New Zealand government goes to great pains to extol the virtues of Firearm Prohibition Orders without ever addressing the greatest pitfall of these well-intentioned schemes – enforcement.
“Firearms Prohibition Orders would prohibit high-risk people from using, accessing, or being around firearms. Breaching the conditions of a Firearms Prohibition Order would be a criminal offence,” says the public consultation page for the New Zealand Police.
It’s a great sound bite, but as the epic failure that is Canada’s Firearm Prohibition Order system shows, pieces of paper don’t stop people with bad intentions from getting their hands on guns illegally.
Canada’s mountain of evidence against using this exact system notwithstanding, on February 13, 2020, the New Zealand government introduced a bill to create a Firearms Prohibition Order regime to “prevent high-risk people from having access to firearms.”
Arms (Firearms Prohibition Orders) Amendment Bill (No 2):
provides strong new powers for Police to make sure the most dangerous gang members don’t have firearms, while not putting unnecessary restrictions on legal gun owners. This Bill puts in place new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) which will apply to the toughest gang members with serious offending histories. Gang members won’t be able to hold firearms licences.
FPOs provide new powers for Police to search the persons, vehicles, and premises of specified serious and violent gang members for firearms at any time.
The bill also allows police to refuse a firearm licence based on whether, “in the opinion of a commissioned officer of Police”
- a person is a member of a gang,
- is not a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm.
This builds on the existing foundation for police discretion to issue a firearm licence spelled out in New Zealand’s Arms Act 1983, which states:
A firearms licence shall not be issued to a person if, in the opinion of a commissioned officer of Police, access to any firearm or airgun in the possession of that person is reasonably likely to be obtained by any person—
(a) whose application for a firearms licence or for a permit under section 7 of the Arms Act 1958, or for a certificate of registration under section 9 of the Arms Act 1958 has been refused on the ground that he is not a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm or airgun; or
(b) whose certificate of registration as the owner of a firearm has been revoked under section 10 of the Arms Act 1958 on the ground that he is not a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm; or
(c) whose firearms licence has been revoked on the ground that he is not a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm or airgun; or
(d) who, in the opinion of a commissioned officer of Police, is not a fit and proper person to be in possession of a firearm or airgun.
Canada’s Failed Firearm Prohibition Order System
In Canada, over 1,110 individuals subject to a Firearms Prohibition Order are arrested every year for violating those orders.
It’s easy to understand why.
- No police agency in Canada tracks individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders registered against them.
- There is no legal requirement for police to track individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders registered against them or routinely check on them to ensure compliance.
- There is no legal requirement for individuals with Firearm Prohibition Orders to notify police when they move to a new residence. Police have no idea where these people are.
People with a history of violent offences are a proven danger to public safety, yet these are the people our government refuses to check on or track.
New Zealand’s proposed system is modeled on Canada’s failed Firearm Prohibition Order scheme. If implemented, it will fail for the same reasons Canada’s system continues to fail year after year.
Until and unless any prohibition scheme is backed by an effective system for tracking and checking on violent offenders to ensure they comply with their Firearm Prohibition Orders, all the pieces of paper in the world will not prevent violent criminals, gang members or anyone else from illegally obtaining as many guns as they want.
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