Firearms licensing changes: Fees currently at ‘low price point’ - PM

A firearms register and major changes to the licensing regime are on the way in the second phase of gun law reforms. - Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Firearm owners are being told not only to expect tougher firearm rules, but an extra hit to their back pocket too.

The government has released a raft of changes to firearm licensing and legislation it is wanting to introduce following the 15 March Christchurch terror attacks.

Among the changes proposed is the introduction of a firearms register, a more stringent application process, and reducing the licence renewal period from 10 years to five years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated on top of legislative changes, firearm licensing fees will increase.

"A firearm licence at the moment for 10 years costs $126.50. Of course if you compare that to something like dog registration - that's $264 - so I think people would agree that's a relatively low price point," she said.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said this meant until now the rest of New Zealand was having to make up for the lack of licensing income.

Mr Nash said the cost to police of administering the Arms Act is about $13 million a year and only $4.1 million was recovered in fees.

Police Minister Stuart Nash

Police Minister Stuart Nash. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

"So, the taxpayer this point in time is subsidising the regime to the tune of about $8.9 million and fees haven't increased for a gun license apart from increases in GST since, I understand, the 1980s."

The government will not confirm how much extra a licence will cost, because it will be subject to consultation separate from that on firearm legislation changes.

Council of Licensed Firearm Owners spokesperson Nicole McKee wasn't surprised there was a plan to raise fees, because it had not changed in years.

"We just hope that this increase is a reasonable increase and not an increase that is about paying for the ideals of the police and how they want to administer the Act," she said.

Ms McKee did not want money be spent on establishing a firearms register and said there was no evidence it would keep communities safer.

"Two billion Canadian dollars has been spent on their gun register, which ended up never solving a crime and being scrapped," she said.

"Of more recent times, Western Australia are now questioning the effectiveness of the registration system they have in place and New South Wales had a recent audit which found their registry was also riddled with errors."

National Party police spokesperson Brett Hudson said the government was focusing on the wrong people.

"It's placing more of a cost burden on law-abiding firearm users, while at the same time really not placing a great focus on the genuine unlawful activity, such as gang behaviour," he said.

The bill making changes to firearm legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament late next month.