Questions and answers

Prohibited items, amnesty, and buy-back following June 2020 changes

When will the new amnesty and buy-back for the small group of additional prohibited firearms start?

The temporary amnesty is now in place and provides protection from prosecution for possession offences under section 50A and 50AA arising from continued possession where the newly prohibited items:

  • were lawfully possessed before the amendment; and
  • only if they are not used.

Police will advise when the buy-back is going to begin. We expect it to be towards the end of this year or early 2021.


What are the new group of prohibited firearms and what are my options?

Details of the small group of additional prohibited firearms and eligibility to retain and possess them can be found here.


What should I do with my firearms until I can hand them in?

You are not able to use these newly prohibited firearms. We ask that you please store them safely and securely until you can hand them over to Police and do not use them.


Will there be collection events again?

Police will communicate the process and options available for hand-in as soon as possible.


Can I hand my firearm or items in to a station?

Police would prefer that you please store them safely and securely until you can hand them over to Police as part of a buy-back and amnesty process. But if that is not possible, yes you can hand them into a station. However, we ask you to please call 0800 311 311 first to organise a suitable time to meet one of our firearms staff to hand them over.


If I hand them in now at a station will I still be eligible for the buy-back later?

Yes you will.


Can I still hand in firearms and items that were made prohibited in April 2019?

Yes you are able to but we ask that you contact Police on 0800 311 311 for advice first. The items that were prohibited last year will no longer be applicable for compensation.


I ordered a firearm to import which will now be considered prohibited, what will happen?

Permits to import issued before commencement for firearms that became prohibited firearms after commencement are revoked to the extent that they apply to the new group of prohibited firearms if they haven’t arrived in New Zealand. Shipments that arrive subsequently will be seized by Customs at the border and become the property of the Crown. 


How will my medical practitioner know I have a firearms licence?

To complete the application for a firearms licence, an applicant will need to provide Police with the name and contact details of their health practitioner (Doctor or medical practice).

When a person’s application is approved Police will inform the health practitioner that the person has been granted a firearms licence. This change takes effect in six months.

This is so health practitioners can consider notifying Police if a licence holder’s health condition is such that in the interests of the safety of individuals or the public, the licence holder should not be permitted to possess firearms (or should only be able to possess firearms with limitations).

If Police receive such a report from a health practitioner, the person may be asked to undergo an independent medical assessment.


Do I need to tell Police if I have changed health practitioner?

Yes. When you move to a new medical practice or change doctor you must tell Police the name of the medical practice / practitioner and their contact details.

Police will contact the practitioner to advise them that you are a firearms licence holder.

Minister’s advisory group

When will we know who is on the new advisory group?

The new law enables this group to be established and that will take place over the next few months to enable this group to be consulted on further policy development. There will be up to nine people on the group including the Chairperson. When they are appointed, notice of that appointment will be published in the Gazette.


How will members be chosen for the advisory group?

The group will be made up of people from within and outside the firearms community, including people who are concerned about the mitigation of harm from firearms from a health perspective. The Minister of Police will appoint the Chairperson and the members.


What will the group do?

The group will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Police on matters that contribute to achieving the objectives of the Arms Act, in particular, the safe use and control of firearms. It can provide advice on any matter relating to firearms in New Zealand, including legislative proposal, policies for regulating New Zealand’s firearms regime, and the promotion of firearm safety.

It must produce an annual report of its proceedings and operations during the year.

New penalties and offences

Will there be a grace period with the new penalties?

Most of the new and updated offences and penalties come into effect and apply immediately.

Police have to apply the law at the relevant time the conduct occurred. When deciding whether to prosecute for any offence, Police have to apply the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines which require consideration of both whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, and also whether there is a public interest in prosecuting.


If I was charged with an offence recently and the penalty has been increased by the new laws, which penalties will I face?

If the conduct that you are charged with occurred before the law changed, the case will proceed on the basis of the law that applied at that time.

Firearms registry

When will the registry come into effect?

The Firearms Registry will be developed over the next three years. Once it is up and running, firearms owners will be required to enter information into the register over five years as they engage with the licensing system, such as when applying for a licence or buying or selling a firearm.

The registry is expected to be operational within three years of enactment of the Act and can go live earlier under Order in Council.


How will it work?

The operation of the registry will have some similarities with the transactions of the motor vehicle register operated by the NZ Transport Agency.

Information belonging to firearms licence holders will be shifted onto the register over five years as they engage with the licensing system, such as when renewing their licence or buying or selling a firearm. If an existing licence holder does none of these processes in the five-year period, they will be required to enter the information in the registry at the end of the five-year period.

Items that individuals or Police will place on the secure register will be the licence holder’s full name, date of birth, and address, the details of their licence number, and any endorsements. It will also include details of all firearms in each licence holder’s possession, including standard sporting and hunting firearms, prohibited firearms, pistols, restricted weapons, and prohibited magazines, and each item’s identifying markings.

The registry will be online with a paper-based notification option also available for people without easy access to computers or good connectivity. Private sales will still be permitted but details of the transactions must be recorded on the register.


When will the new agency be established?

The establishment of any new agency and its functions will take considerable time to work through. Until such time, Police will remain responsible for administration of the Arms Act and implementing changes to it.

Police will now undertake further work on developing a model for moving accountability for the Arms Act regulatory functions from Police. These will be presented to the Minister of Police who will then report to Cabinet on options for an independent regulatory entity.