10 Jul 2016

Firearms review likely to lead to law changes

6:52 am on 10 July 2016

An internal review of how the police administer and monitor firearms is likely to lead to changes in the law, including allowing people to apply for a gun licence online.

Officer is pictured sitting at his desk in uniform

Chris Scahill. Photo: (Supplied )

The review was being carried out in parallel to the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry into illegal gun possession, sparked by the shooting of four police officers in Kawerau and the seizure of a cache of illicit firearms in Auckland earlier this year.

Police national manager for police response and operations Superintendent Chris Scahill said the Firearms Review Project would not report its findings until next year.

Around 1.2 million firearms were currently held by about 250,000 licensed firearms holders.

"This is a massive project for us and we will deliver conclusions of the review in 2017 but we will also be putting up a number of suggested modifications or improvements to the Arms Act," Mr Scahill said.

One of the suggestions the police would be making was to encourage more people to apply for a firearms licence online using the government's secure login service RealMe.

"We would be encouraging and incorporating that process into our licensing system so that people are not having to fill out manual forms, and manual forms are not being processed, so we have a full electronic end to end solution," Mr Scahill said.

He said licence processing may also be centralised, instead of being done by police stations.

The Police Association believed both the Parliamentary inquiry and the police internal review would find more funding was needed to administer and monitor firearm use.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said monitoring of firearms had been underfunded and not given enough priority for years.

rifle

Around 1.2 million firearms are currently held by about 250,000 licensed firearms holders. Photo: 123rf

"The policing of the whole Arms Act, the whole arms industry by police has been under-resourced and under-focused for some time.

"I would be very surprised if the recommendations coming out of both the select committee and the internal review don't result in recommendations for more resource," Mr O'Connor said.

Superintendent Scahill disagreed the current system was underfunded.

"We have had, in general, a largely fit for purpose administration framework and if I compare us to other countries around the world I think we stand pretty well," he said.

"Is there opportunity for improvement? Of course there is. We continuously try to improve what we're doing but largely, I do believe the framework is fit for purpose and particularly with that focus on ensuring that fit and proper persons obtain licenses."