New Zealand to reform 'outdated' firearm laws

The Wider Image: Lives forever changed by Christchurch shootings

(Fixes typo in headline, no change to text)

By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The New Zealand government said on Friday it would reform the country's "outdated and complicated" firearm laws which have been in place for more than 40 years.

New Zealand's previous government tightened firearm laws after a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch 2019 in the country's worst peace-time mass shooting. While gun violence in New Zealand was rare, it has been increasing in recent years.

Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee said on Friday that it was now time to update the country's Arms Act to make sure its fit for purpose for today and into the future.

"The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way," McKee said in a statement.

"This has resulted in outdated and complicated requirements that unfairly target licensed firearms owners, often with no clear benefit to public safety," said McKee, who was formerly the spokesperson for the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners.

The current government has already introduced the Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Bill. The changes include making it harder for gang members to own guns but easier for people to have a ban on gun ownership lifted. It is also undertaking a consultation on the regulation of shooting clubs.

Following the Christchurch shooting massacre, New Zealand introduced a gun registry, prohibited high-risk firearms like short semi-automatic rifles, tightened rules for gun dealers, and reduced the length of firearms licence from 10 to 5 years for first time licence holders and those who had their licence revoked or allowed it to expire.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typo in the headline)

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Michael Perry)