New bill introduced to combat firearm violence

New bill seeks to prevent high-risk offenders from accessing or using restricted weapons

New bill introduced to combat firearm violence

Parliament has introduced a bill that would strengthen the government’s approach to combatting firearm violence, the New Zealand Police announced.

The new bill, or the Firearms Prohibition Order Legislation Bill, seeks to enhance public safety by preventing high-risk offenders from accessing or using firearms or restricted weapons, including pistol, airgun, magazine and ammunition. High-risk offenders refer to those whose behaviour and actions represent a high risk of violence or reflect an underlying risk of violence.

“This government is committed to addressing firearms violence and its impact on our communities,” said Minister of Police Poto Williams.

The bill is consistent with recent amendments to the Arms Act 1983, which guarantee that only individuals deemed fit and proper to possess firearms can be issued with a licence.

Pursuant to the bill, courts can issue firearms prohibitions orders (FPOs) against an offender aged 18 years old and above and convicted of a specified offence under the Arms Act 1983, the Crimes Act 1961 or the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, or a qualifying offence as defined in section 86A of the Sentencing Act 2002.

“FPOs will be a court order that prohibits anyone convicted and sentenced of serious criminal offences from possessing, accessing or using firearms for ten years after their sentence has been completed,” Williams said. She also assured that FPOs “will in no way impede fit and proper firearms licence holders from continuing to lawfully own and use firearms.”

The bill also sets out a series of standard and special conditions for FPOs and the corresponding penalties for breaching those conditions.

According to the New Zealand Police, the bill will go through the normal select committee process this year before it becomes a law.

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