2022: Submission on the Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Bill
Victim Support supports the strengthening of firearms legislation to reduce the risk of societal harm, particularly in family violence situations. However, we are concerned that this bill proposes removing breaches of Protection Orders as qualifying convictions for firearms prohibition orders and therefore misses a crucial opportunity to add another layer of protection to family violence victims.
It is well documented that firearms access increases the risk of serious and lethal family violence. Even if the trigger is never pulled, the mere presence of a firearm in a family harm situation can amplify power and control tactics, which are often a precursor to more serious abuse. Serious and lethal family violence can build up over time, so legislation needs to capture all of those who have the potential to commit serious family violence as early as possible, certainly at the point of breaching a Protection Order.
The explanatory note in this bill states: “The single broad policy implemented by the amendments in this bill is to improve public safety by preventing people whose behaviour and actions represent a high risk of violence, or reflect an underlying risk of violence, from being able to access firearms or restricted weapons.” We argue that there is clear evidence from overseas research and our statistics in New Zealand that anyone whose behaviour and actions has led to their being the subject of a protection or restraining order, and who then chooses to breach that order, indeed reflects an underlying risk of violence. Excluding breaches of protection and restraining orders from this legislation undermines everything we have come to know about family harm and is inconsistent with the nationwide efforts to prevent family violence.
Now is the time to strengthen our unified commitment to family violence prevention and to the societal message of zero tolerance for family violence.
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