(National Party media release)

The Police Minister’s decision to grant firearms licence holders extensions to existing permissions is better late than never, says National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown.

“The Government blames the backlog on Covid, but licenced firearms owners have been waiting up to a year to get renewals before this current outbreak.

“At the start of the Delta outbreak I wrote to the Minister asking her to consider granting an extension to licence applications due to the fact that firearms had to be moved to an alternative address if the licence expired – which would be a breach of lockdown rules. I am pleased she has taken action to relieve the pressure on licenced firearms owners.

“The backlog is clear evidence that the changes to the Arms Act changing the duration of licences from 10 years to five years will simply add to the backlog of licence application processing times.

“Police have been slow and disorganised in dealing with the backlog of applications. This has been a problem for more than a year and yet police still seem incapable of dealing with the backlog.

“Police need to get on with it and start clearing the backlog. Licenced firearms owners have been made to feel like criminals under these delays, while gangs and criminals continue to cause violence with illegal guns. 

“The Government also needs to urgently move ahead with Firearm Prohibition Order legislation announced in May to crack down on illegal firearms used by gangs and the increasing level of violence.

“So far, other than announcement, no legislation has been brought to Parliament.”