News and updates

History of firearms regulation in New Zealand

The regulation of firearms and firearm owners in New Zealand dates back more than 170 years. If you’re interested in finding out more, see firearms history (PDF, 378KB).

Consultation - Secure storage requirements for firearm licence holders: Police policy and practice

[updated November 2017]

New Zealand Police is seeking feedback on two versions of a draft document regarding the secure storage requirements for firearm licence holders.

The two draft documents differ slightly in a couple of key areas, with the November 2017 version providing more detail about when different security options will be acceptable. Those wishing to provide feedback are encouraged to read both documents and to make clear which document their comments relate to.

Feedback is to be provided to secure-storage-firearms@police.govt.nz  by 1 December 2017.  Please put “Secure Storage” in the subject line of your email and please remember to advise which draft document you’re commenting on.

Background:

New Zealand Police established a Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) to act in a consultative and advisory capacity to Police on matters relating to Police’s administration of the Arms Act.

  • In November 2016, a firearms community member of FCAF raised concerns about the inconsistent methods used to secure firearms and suggested that the forum could assist Police and firearms licence holders by considering future standards for the practical storage of firearms and ammunition.
  • NZ Police also wished to ensure there are processes and guidance to encourage reliable security of firearms to increase safety within the firearms community and for the general public and to minimise opportunities for firearms to enter the illicit armoury.
  • In April 2017 a security sub-committee was established as a standing committee of FCAF, and produced an April 2017 draft.
  • In November 2017 a second draft was produced.
  • Feedback is now being invited on these two draft documents.
  • Feedback is to be provided by 1 December.
  • It is intended to have a final document by mid-December 2017.

View the 2 versions of the draft document:

Recording serial numbers helps protect firearms and other valuable property

Many New Zealanders do not record the serial numbers of their valuable items, making it much harder for them to be recovered if they’re lost or stolen.

There have been recent burglaries where firearms were taken but almost none of the serial numbers had been recorded. Often the make and model wasn’t known either. This makes it a lot harder for Police to reunite the owners with their property if it is later recovered.

That’s why Police encourages firearms owners to record the make, model and serial numbers of their firearms. We also encourage people to record these details for other valuable items, such as TVs and stereos.

There are numerous ways this information can be recorded, ranging from simply writing it down to using online facilities such as SNAP. For more information on this free service, visit the Operation SNAP website.

What Police does with seized and surrendered firearms

Please review the following short Facebook clip to get an understanding of what Police does with seized and surrendered firearms. 

If any member of the public has any firearms they would like to surrender to Police, please contact your local station to make surrender arrangements.  If you decide to go to a station make sure the firearms are in a carry case to prevent any cause for alarm or concern for Police staff or members of the public.

View the clip on the Counties Manukau Facebook page

Trade Me licence checks

Police has been working with Trade Me to confirm that people who are buying or intending to buy firearms through the site hold a current firearms licence.

From 7 September 2017, whenever someone asks a question, bids, clicks “Buy Now” or proceeds to purchase in relation to a firearm listing on Trade Me, they will need to enter their firearms licence number and the name on that licence.

Trade Me will then send a request containing the member’s name and supplied firearms licence number to Police via its application programming interface (or API). Police will provide a ‘Yes/No’ response so Trade Me can establish whether the licence is valid.

Trade Me will not have access to Police firearms licence records, and the only information Police will provide is a simple “Yes” or “No” as to whether a licence is legitimate and current.

The Privacy Commissioner has considered this process and found that it raises no concerns under the Privacy Act. His comments, along with further information, is available on the Privacy Commissioner’s website.

This process does not replace existing legal requirements for sellers to ensure that the purchaser holds a firearms licence. Before supplying the firearm to the new purchaser, sellers must sight the firearms licence of the buyer or receive a mail order form signed by Police confirming the buyer holds a valid firearms licence.

Police would like to acknowledge the work Trade Me is doing to help prevent people who do not have a valid firearms licence from buying or selling firearms.

Police will look to make this system available to other sites and businesses that are selling or facilitating the sale of firearms via the internet.
 

Secure storage of firearms

Inspection of secure firearms storage provisions is a key factor to enable Police to be satisfied that a person is fit and proper to have a firearms licence irrespective of whether the application is for a first time licence, renewal or endorsement.

If for any reason inspection cannot be achieved it is likely that a licence or endorsement will not be issued.

Refer to Sections 24, 30, 30 B and 32 of the Arms Act 1983 and Regulations 19, 28 of the Arms Regulations 1992. 
 

Police's commitment to strengthening communication with the firearms community

Following release of the Government’s response to the Law and Order Select Committee’s Report on issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms, the Police Executive is taking further steps to deliver stronger consultative and decision-making processes regarding our administration of the Arms Act.

In keeping with the Government’s recommendations, we acknowledge we need to be more responsive in consulting with the Firearms Community Forum and the wider firearms community.

As a result, we have introduced a new governance structure that provides greater oversight and direction of firearms related matters.

A new Arms Act Service Delivery Group, incorporating the Arms Control Unit and the Arms Safety Control Project is in the process of being established to lead this work. This new Group  will report directly to the Police Executive and be focused on improving administrative efficiency and strengthening communications and consultative processes. It will take some time to get this group fully functioning.

In the interim the work already in progress will continue, and we will continue to consult with the Forum as an important conduit between Police and the firearms community.
 

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)

Specifically:

  • 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.