25 June 2020

The Government has passed amendments to the Arms Act which Police is now responsible for implementing.

The changes will impact on the firearms community at different times over the next three years.

Police wants to ensure people know what is going to affect them right now. There are immediate changes coming into force tomorrow, then over the next three years there will be changes coming into effect after six months, one year, two years, and then three years.

As with previous changes, the Police website is the first port of call for information and what the changes mean for people. It will be regularly updated with details on the later changes as time progresses.

The immediate changes include:

  • If you have applied for a first time firearm licence since 10 February 2020, this first licence will only be valid for five years (even it if was issued before the amendments take effect). In some other circumstances (such as when a person reapplies after their licence has expired, been revoked or surrendered) a subsequent licence application would be treated as a first time licence and granted for a duration of five years only. All other subsequent licences will be for 10 years, provided application is made before the 10 year licence expires.
  • A small group of additional firearms are now prohibited, including those short (pistol-length) semi-automatic rifles that had been treated as pistols because of their shorter lengths; and centrefire pump-action rifles with a detachable magazine or that have a non-detachable magazine capable of holding more than 10 cartridges.
  • 0.22 rimfire semi-automatics with magazines of 10 rounds or less remain for the most part out from the definition of prohibited firearm. However, if the firearm has a lower receiver, it will only be non-prohibited if the lower receiver is not able to be attached to a centrefire upper receiver resulting in a functioning firearm.
  • There are also new requirements for lawful possession of a pistol carbine conversion kit (which converts a pistol into a shoulder-fired firearm).
  • Some endorsements which previously lasted for the same term of the licence now have a shorter duration and will need to be re-applied for before the firearms licence expires if you wish to continue the endorsed activity. Endorsements for pest controllers now have a duration of two and a half years or when the licence expires if earlier.
  • There is also a new category of exempt person who can apply for a prohibited firearm/magazine endorsement. An owner, manager, or employee of an agricultural, horticultural, or silvicultural business may apply where there is a real possibility that the commercial viability of the business would be detrimentally affected to a significant extent by the presence of wild animals or animal pests on land used for that business.
  • Visitors to New Zealand will no longer be able to buy and take ownership of a firearm for use during their visit (they can buy and export only).
  • New and updated offences and penalties.
  • A Minister’s arms advisory group made up of both licence holders and non-licence holders must now be established to provide ongoing advice to the Minister.
  • The Arms Act is set to be reviewed after the amendment Act has been in force for three years.

If you have a newly prohibited firearm or a pistol carbine conversion kit, please store these items safely and securely. There is more information, including a video, on our website about these affected items. You can check on the Police website if you are eligible to apply for an endorsement and permit/s to retain these items.

There is a temporary amnesty from prosecution for offences under section 50A or 50AA of possessing of these items if they were lawfully possessed before the Act commences and provided they are not used during the amnesty period. Regulations will be passed to enable a new buyback and this will be well publicised when dates are confirmed.

Amendments to the Act coming into force after six months will make discretionary criteria for determining if a person is fit and proper to possess a firearm transparent. Some people will also be disqualified from applying for a firearms licence, for example where they have specified criminal convictions. After six months there will also be new requirements for those selling, supplying, or possessing ammunition. After one year new provisions regarding dealers come into force, and new requirements on shooting clubs and ranges will come into force after two years.

One of the most significant changes, that will come into force at the end of the three years, will be the introduction of a firearms registry and the requirement for all firearms to be recorded on the registry.

The website has detailed information on all the changes, including frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the information you need on the website please contact your local arms officer.

We ask you to please be patient. As we did previously for the last law change, Police will work hard to provide guidance for people to help them navigate the new laws.


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