Friday, September 11, 2015

Jock Anderson: New Zealand Gun Laws Among Best In The World

Freelance journalist and commentator Jock Anderson says rogue shooting is no reason to toughen gun laws.

Calls by the disarmament lobby for tougher gun laws ignore the reality that New Zealand gun 
laws are widely regarded as among the best in 
the world.

It is inevitable that the Upper Hutt shooting brings out anti-gun campaigners baying for “tougher” gun laws.

The fact is that most gun crime in New Zealand is committed by people who are not licensed firearms owners – dodgy people who have stolen or acquired firearms they are not entitled by law to have and who go one to use them unlawfully.

They do not comply with firearms law.

It is extremely rare for any gun crime to be committed by a licensed firearms owner.

Underlying gun law in New Zealand is the premise that firearms ownership and use is a privilege and not a right.

Contrary to what anti-gun campaigning academic Professor Kevin Clements, of Otago University’s national centre for peace and conflict studies says, New Zealand gun laws are not loose.

Far from it.

Registering firearms to their licensed owners – as Prof Clements suggests – may be a useful consideration, however bureaucratically cumbersome it would be.

Getting a firearms licence in New Zealand is a lengthy, detailed and sensible process.

A person must establish they are first of all fit and proper to hold a firearms licence.

And they must have good reason to want to own a firearm.

Self-defence, for example, is not a reason.

They must undertake police-approved courses in firearms safety and are assessed for their attitude, maturity, responsibility and common sense.

It is advisable to be introduced by an existing licence holder and to show a genuine interest in the outdoors, either as a hunter or target shooter.

Membership of a shooting organisation such as the Deerstalkers Association is recommended.

Those who develop interests in disciplines such as pistol and semi-automatic service rifle shooting, for example, require stricter additional examination, vetting and approval.

While licensed firearms owners rarely commit crime with guns, no law can totally prevent a determined person getting their hands on a firearm by some unlawful means or other.

But responsible licensed firearms owners – who lawfully have guns for sport, competition or collection and also vote – cannot be penalised for the criminality of a very small minority…

Jock Anderson has been a journalist for a long time, observing matters from what he describes as a sensible centre-right perspective. He can be contacted at


Unknown said...

I was recently named as a referee for a friend that wanted to renew his firearms licence, the officer rang me last night to ask a few questions, most of them were just ridiculous, but the worst one was "why do you think Mr X wants to renew his licence" my answer and the very obvious one was that he had to because he has firearms, another was "do you feel safe going to his house knowing he has firearms" I said do you think he would use me as a referee if I didn't trust him with firearms?
I spent 15 minutes on the phone with this chap and not one sensible question. Waste of time and tax payers money.

Unknown said...

When our badly run debt ridden economy finally crashes we are going to need guns to hunt and survive.

mike said...

I agree NZ gun laws are probably the best in the world. Certainly they are strict enough as is without being draconian. As you say most gun crimes are not committed by licenced owners, so how would stricter laws stop them?
One thing that is different in NZ from the USA is that if I argue with my neighbour, the last thing on my mind is to grab a gun and shoot him. Punch him on the nose if extremely provoked, maybe, but not shoot him. My guns like most licenced folks are for either hunting or sport shooting.
I just wish somehow we could get this message to the media who revel in gun crime to appease the anti-gun lobby and sell news.

KP said...

As a Kiwi who has moved to Aussie I can back up the author's assertations!

Australain laws are just a bureaucratic nightmare designed to make firearms ownership as difficult and as expensive as possible. There was no investigation in my psychology when I went for my licence over here- watch a video, pay money, wait forever. The same with buying firearms, there is s long waiting period that serves no purpose, and a greater bureaucracy to take down the serial numbers of all firearms.

Don't even ask me about importing guns, I've bought in two now, so I am regictere as an International Arms Dealer!

In contrast, the Police in NZ came around to my place when I was out and spoke to my wife, asking those important questions about her being happy with my owning firearms, inspected my storage and spoke to my referees. Once I was cleared as 'suitable to own firearms' then how many or what numbers on them became irrelevant.

The ridiculous strict laws over here have not stopepd the almost daily shootings in the major cities.

Wayne said...

Steve, I agree with you that some of the questions asked by the firearms vetting officer really leave you in a quandary is to why do they ask such irrelevant questions but on the whole they do get a fairly good picture of the firearms applicants mental stability, The reason is to why the person wants a firearm, and they also go and check out the applicants firearm home security and lockup facility and all of that does not guarantee you a firearms licence. The applicants wife/Girlfriend/Immediate family and as you say! two known persons of the firearms applicant have to be interviewed so the vetting is fairly well covered.
An old adage saying is that "Guns do not kill people, People kill people" and the criminal element are never going comply with gun laws, that's why they have to steal the firearm from the law abiding citizen who does comply with the law. Why penalize the Hunter gatherer, Sports shooter further because it does not sit well with your beliefs.

Ron Peek said...

Perhaps Mr Carson was just having a bad day. I recently was a referee for a friend who was willing to buy my firearm, and had (obviously) to obtain a licence prior to his purchase. I was phoned, and subsequently visited, by a firearms officer who was polite, knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with. None of his questions regarding my friend could have been remotely construed as nonsensical. I was impressed. It was (unusually these days) certainly not a 'waste of time and tax payers money'.
The only failing in the system appears to be that the office in Wellington takes many weeks (greater than thirty days) to process the application and to produce the actual licence. But I suspect bureaucracy, rather than the Arms Office.