News and updates

Police approach to MSSA* classification remains unchanged

In response to recent information being circulated within the firearms community regarding the classification of A-category firearms – and in particular AR15 type semi-automatic firearms – Police confirms that the classification and rules regarding the importation of these weapons has not changed. (*MSSA, Military Style Semi-Automatic)


  • People can still continue to apply to import A-category firearms as they always have – no special reasons are required. This classification and its interpretation by Police has not changed, despite what has been circulated through social media.
  • 28,000 A-category firearms were imported into New Zealand in 2016 and these will continue to be imported in 2017 under the same classification rules.
  • There has been no re-classification of AR15 type semi-automatic weapons nor has Police made any proposal – an individual or a dealer can still continue to apply to import these weapons. These continue to be treated as an either an A-category or an E-category firearm depending on the individual specifications of the firearm.
  • The Arms Act has always required importer to obtain a permit to bring in “parts” of firearms to New Zealand and a special reason is required to import MSSA parts. To deliver on the intent of the Act Police needs to consider whether the application relates to a part of a MSSA or part of an A category firearm. Where it is possible that the part could be either for an A category or an E category firearm Police is required to seek further clarification about the intended use of the part.
  • Police cannot change the classification of firearms by making an Order-in-Council. Any such proposal would need to be approved by Cabinet and be signed by the Governor-General
  • Police continues to administer the Arms Act and remains committed to working with the firearms community to promote the safe use and management of firearms. Anyone with questions regarding Police’s approach to firearms licensing or management is encouraged to contact us directly or through the Firearms Community Advisory Forum.
  • Police’s first priority remains the safe, secure and lawful use of firearms and effective administration of the Arms Act as part of our commitment to safer communities together.