Firearms changes FAQs

Last updated 20 June 2019

General

Do you know how many prohibited firearms there are?

No. Many semi-automatics could be held by individuals with an A category firearms licence. Police do not hold information on those firearms.

Why prohibit semi-automatics specifically?

Semi-automatics have the ability to cause harm in a fast and highly destructive way, and from a distance. The greater the mix of calibre, capacity, and capability, the less the survivability of the injury.

Won’t there be an increase in firearms smuggled into New Zealand as a result of the change?

New Zealand Customs has good systems in place to detect all firearms importations, both legal and illegal. The vast majority of New Zealanders are responsible and law-abiding citizens. Anyone with information on unlawful firearms is encouraged to contact Police.

Isn’t this going to increase the black market in New Zealand?

The firearms community is comprised of people who have been deemed fit and proper to hold a firearms licence so it is expected they will abide by the law. Many have already notified us of their intent to hand in their firearms.

However, the Government recognises many firearm owners will now lose the ability to use firearms they purchased for what were legitimate reasons. This is part of the reason for the buy-back compensation scheme.

Are you taking away rights of legitimate users?

No. The possession, ownership and use of a firearm in New Zealand is a privilege and not a right, and it carries significant responsibilities.

Firearm licence holders still have the ability to use a variety of firearms for sport, hunting, and business purposes. This is about balancing the safety of our communities with the use of firearms for business and recreational purposes.

Why can’t they be highly regulated like pistols?

There is no encompassing organisation or infrastructure in place that readily enables the strict regime that is in place for pistol use. Also, the controls applied to pistol use are in keeping with their use for close range targets. Semi-automatics are used for longer range targets.

If there is no register for firearms which were previously Category A firearms but are now prohibited firearms, how will you know if all prohibited firearms have been handed in?

We expect those who have held these firearms lawfully to do the right thing.

Will you be requesting sales records from all gun sellers?

Under section 12 of the Arms Act 1983 Police may require some records from firearms dealers to help assess the number of banned firearms in the country.

There is an existing requirement under the Arms Act for dealers to hold their records for five years.

How long does the online form take to complete?

The form takes an average of 15 minutes to complete for a person with two firearms.

What happens if I have a half submitted form?

The form does not retain the information and so we would recommend you only attempt completion when time allows.

If I have already completed the form before the bill passed, do I need to complete it again?

No.

My firearm has huge sentimental value and I think it’s unique. What can I do?

There is no compensation for sentimental or intrinsic value.

The buy-back price list shows the brands, make and models of firearms available in the New Zealand market in March 2019 – current, superseded and discontinued. The price list is unable to reflect rare or unique items.

But there is a process to apply for compensation for unique items. If you think you have a unique, high-value firearm, you can apply to the Commissioner of Police for the compensation amount to be determined. However, you can only do this if:

  • the prohibited item is not listed in the compensation schedule and it is rare, or has other distinguishing characteristics that significantly affect its value, or
  • the prohibited items is not listed in the compensation schedule and it is otherwise unique and is substantially different from any other prohibited item listed in the compensation schedule, or
  • if the prohibited item is listed in the compensation schedule but the item has been modified in such a manner, and to such an extent, that the person has reasonable grounds to believe the value of the item is at least 30% above the base price for that item listed in the price list.

An application fee of a $120 (excluding GST) is required for this. When applying to the Commissioner you will need to provide evidence of the value of the item (for example, if the item was purchased recently, the purchase price may be relevant), and other evidence and information as applicable (depending on which ground you are relying on) such as evidence of its rarity or other distinguishing characteristics and how those significantly affect its value; why the item is considered unique; or evidence of the cost of modifications.

On receiving the application, the Commissioner may require the applicant to obtain a valuation at the applicant’s expense. If that occurs, the applicant will be able to choose a valuer from a list of approved valuers which will be available on the Police’s website in future. The prohibited item may also need to be submitted to Police for inspection.

How do I go about modifying my firearm from being prohibited to non-prohibited?

Some firearms with non-detachable tubular magazines are able to be modified (to permanently reduce the magazine capacity so that the firearm is no longer a prohibited firearm), including:

  • Semi-automatic firearms capable of firing only 0.22 calibre or lower rimfire cartridges, with a non-detachable magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds
  • Semi-automatic shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges
  • A pump-action shotgun with a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges.

Owners of some bolt or lever-action firearms may not realise that, while firearms with those actions are not prohibited, the non-detachable magazine may be because of the number of rounds it holds. These include:

  • Shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges
  • Other firearms with non-detachable tubular magazines capable of holding more than 10 cartridges.

A process for how modifications can be carried out - and a list of approved gunsmiths to do the modifications - will be published on the Police website soon. Until then, please continue to keep your firearms safe. We recommend you read the full Regulations on the Police website.

Those people who elect to modify their eligible firearms can seek payment up to a maximum of $300 for the cost of the modification. This payment will be made to the approved gunsmith who carries out the modification.  

Parts FAQs

What is a prohibited part?

Prohibited parts are:

  • Anything (such as a butt, stock, silencer, or sight) that is:
    • designed to be an integral part of a prohibited firearm; or
    • intended to be an integral part of a prohibited firearm; and
  • Any component that can be applied to enable (or take significant steps toward enabling) a firearm fire with (or near to) semi-automatic or automatic action.
  • Examples include: bump-stock, gatling trigger.

Can I still use a suppressor?

You can still use a suppressor fitted to your standard firearm. 

Can exempt persons have prohibited parts?

Individuals who apply for, and obtain, an endorsement to possess a prohibited firearm may lawfully possess parts for that firearm.

Can you import prohibited parts?

An import permit is required to import prohibited parts. Only the Commissioner of Police (or his delegate) may grant the application, and the Commissioner must be satisfied that there are special reasons for why the prohibited part/s should be allowed into New Zealand. The person applying for the permit to import must hold an endorsement (or be a dealer applying as an agent for an individual who is an endorsement holder).

Do I need an import permit for a firearm part?

Yes you do. See 'Permits to import or possess firearms'

Penalties and offences

What are the new penalties and offences?

  • maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment:
    • using a prohibited firearm to resist arrest
  • maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment:
    • unlawful carriage or possession of a prohibited firearm in a public place
    • presenting a prohibited firearm at another person
    • carrying a prohibited firearm with criminal intent
    • possessing a prohibited firearm while committing any offence that has a maximum penalty of 3 years or more
  • maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment:
    • importing a prohibited item
    • unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm
    • supplying or selling a prohibited firearm or magazine
    • without lawful purpose, assembling a prohibited firearm or converting a firearm into a prohibited firearm
  • maximum penalty of 2 years:
    • possessing a prohibited part or magazine
    • supplying or selling a prohibited part

Amnesty FAQs

How does the amnesty process work?

The amnesty from prosecution for possession of prohibited firearms, parts, and magazines will run until 20 December 2019.

Police encourages any person now in possession of a prohibited item to safely secure it and notify Police by completing the online form or calling 0800 311 311.

The amnesty period includes the ability for firearms holders to anonymously hand-in any firearm/s under amnesty. These firearms will be destroyed and are not eligible for buy-back.

Amnesty allows time for you to handover prohibited firearms even if you no longer hold a valid firearms licence. You may also hand in a non-prohibited firearm/s if you no longer wish to have it in your possession.

During the amnesty period it is not an offence to possess firearms that are newly prohibited, but you cannot use them.

Can firearms that are not prohibited firearms be handed in?

Yes.

Will people be prosecuted if they don’t hand their firearms in during the amnesty?

As the Commissioner of Police has said, people should hand in their prohibited firearms, magazines and parts during the amnesty period which runs until 20 December 2019.

If they do not or do not demonstrate any intent to do so, then Police will take action.

Collection events FAQs

How can I hand in my firearm/s?

Police preference is for firearm/s to be handed in at collection events which will be held throughout New Zealand. 

However, there are a number of options for firearm’s owners to hand in their firearms: Countrywide community collection sites; bulk pick-ups by Police for those with more than 10 firearms; collections at selected firearms retailers or dealers, and Police station hand-ins. There will also be exception-based pick-ups by Police if there are security concerns or transport constraints. 

Who will manage the community collection points?

Twelve dedicated Police collection teams will support district-based Police staff and other necessary resource at each community collection point. Collections will be replicated in the same way throughout the country.  

What should people do to get ready for a collection event?

  • Go to the Police website and complete the online notification form to help speed up the hand-in process.
  • Record your online notification reference number and remember to take it with you to the collection event.

Safety is paramount - before coming to a collection event, remember to safely transport your firearms:

  • Clear them of all ammunition
  • Place the firearms and parts in a safe carry bag, such as a firearms bag, or a non-descript cover.

When you come to a collection event, please bring the following with you:

  • Photo identification (drivers licence or passport)
  • Your bank account number
  • Your firearms licence (if applicable)
  • You online notification reference number
  • All your prohibited parts, cleared of all ammunition
  • Any other firearm/s or parts you wish to hand-in to Police for destruction.

How will the hand in and collection process work?

It’s important all firearm/s owners remove all ammunition from their firearm/s and store them securely before transporting to collection points.

Once at a collection site, owners will need to do a safety clearance of every firearm, under Police supervision. This ensures all firearms are empty of ammunition. Police staff will provide you with a chamber safety flag once that process is complete. This shows the firearm is safe for handling and free of ammunition.

Amnesty: If you want to hand in your firearm during the amnesty period, proceed to the amnesty queue at collection points and hand your firearm to processing staff. While Police are encouraging owners to complete a notification form for amnesty, you are not obliged to do so. The firearm will be tagged for destruction and then securely stored.

Buy-back: If your firearm is eligible for buy-back, owners should go to the Police website and complete the online notification form before going to collection points. Remember to record your online notification reference number.

If you haven’t completed your online form you will need to go to the administration station at collection sites and complete an online form then. Note the process will be quicker if you complete your online notification form before going to a collection point.

You will then take your firearm/s to be confirmed by Police staff who will use the catalogue and pricing determined by Government. The price cannot be negotiated as they are set in Regulations. An assessor will then confirm the firearm/s match the descriptions on the form. The firearm/s are then verified by a firearms expert. The firearm/s will then be tagged for destruction and secured.

Please note that people seeking firearm/s endorsements need to do so via the online notification form or by calling 0800 311 311.

Can I bring ammunition and other parts/accessories to hand in at the community collection sites? 

Yes, you can bring ammunition parts and magazines to collection events. Please make every effort to ensure your firearm/s is unloaded and these items are safe.

Is there a limit to how many firearms and parts I can bring to the community collection sites?

Those with 10 or more firearms must complete the online notification form and select “bulk” pick-up as an option. Police will contact you to organise a time to come to your property/premise to securely collect your firearms.

How long will the process take at a community collection site?

This will vary depending on the number of people attending and the number of firearms being handed in. It will also depend on whether you have completed the online notification form in advance. If you do, you will progress quickly through the process.

What if none of the locations or times suit me or I can’t get there? What if I live in a remote location or don't have transport? What if I don’t have childcare options?

The online notification form enables people to inform Police if they cannot transport their firearms safely to any of the collection points. If you are unable to travel we ask that you please complete the online notification form or call 0800 311 311 and an alternative option will be considered.

You're welcome to bring your children to collection events.

What happens to the firearms once they are handed in?

Firearm/s are tagged, disabled and securely stored. Firearm/s will be rendered inoperable onsite and then securely transported to another location for bulk destruction.

How will you record/track/trace firearms handed in?

All firearms will be tagged with a unique ID using QR codes. This creates a ‘chain of custody’ from hand in, through to final destruction.

Buy-back FAQs

When will the buy-back be in place?

The buy-back details are available as of 20 June. The buy-back offer is open for 6 months until 20 December 2019.

If I have already handed in a firearm, am I still eligible for buy-back?

People who have already handed in prohibited firearms will be eligible for buy-back. Police will be in touch with people who have completed their notification form as they process their items.

Will the buy-back cover parts, accessories, magazines and ammunition?

The buy-back includes parts, accessories and magazines but not ammunition.

Can I sell my firearm to someone overseas instead of taking part in the buy-back?

No. If it is a prohibited firearm you are unlikely to be given a permit to export under the Customs and Excise Act.

Will you be doing checks on all firearms licence holders?

Police’s established processes for checking licence holders will continue. However, work on the proposed second bill will consider the need to audit and monitor compliance of all licence holders.

Appeal process - I disagree with the price list, how was it developed and how can I appeal?

The price-list was developed in consultation with firearms and industry experts, independently from NZ Police. Prices for the now prohibited items reflect the value of the item just prior to March 2019. They take into account the retailers prices and online prices and - in the case of a prohibited firearm - whether the firearm is a current, superseded or discontinued model.

Buy-back amounts depend on a firearm or parts condition - the criteria is listed in detail on the price list. They are calculated as a percentage of the value or base price of the item. Firearms in (A) in new or near new condition, 95% of the base price (B) in used condition, 70% of the base price (C) in poor condition, 25% of the base price.

For a prohibited part in any condition better than poor, the buy-back amount will be 70% of the base price. If they are in poor condition, buy-back will be 25% of the base price.

If you do wish to appeal the buy-back price for your item/s, section 63 of the Arms Act 1983 allows for you to appeal to the District Court through the civil jurisdiction.

Exemptions

How do I apply for an exemption for my pest control business?

You can read about requirements and apply for an endorsement.

How do I know if I’m an eligible pest controller?

You will be eligible for an endorsement if you are employed or engaged by the Department of Conservation and involved in operations for the purpose of controlling wild animals or animal pests, or are the holder of a concession granted by the Minister of Conservation to undertake wild animal recovery operations, or any person who is employed or engaged by a management agency (as defined in section 100 of the Biosecurity Act 1993) and involved in operations for the purpose of controlling wild animals or animal pests.

You may also be eligible if your sole business, or a substantial part of whose business, is providing services to control prescribed wild animals or animal pests, or a person employed or engaged by that person for that purpose.

NB: Prescribed animals are wild deer, chamois, tahr, wild pigs, wild goats, wallaby, feral rabbit, feral hare, and Canada geese.

You can find more information on applying for an endorsement and permit to possess prohibited items.

You can find the relevant section of the updated Arms Act from the New Zealand Legislation website.

If I am a dealer, collector, or pest controller, can I move my E-cat firearms to my current endorsement?

If you possess prohibited items and wish to continue to possess them you will have to apply for a new prohibited item endorsement. You can find more information on the requirements for different endorsements and permits to possess prohibited items.

How do I transfer a prohibited firearm into my collection?

You need to apply for and hold a prohibited item endorsement.  This will require you to list the items you wish to hold in a collection and show that the firearm(s) you possess can be considered part of a thematic collection. An ad hoc, unrelated group of firearms is not a ‘collection’. You can find more information on prohibited firearms, endorsements, and permits to possess.

Can I become a collector to keep my firearm?

Collections must have an identifiable theme. An ad hoc, unrelated group of firearms is not a ‘collection’. You can find more information on prohibited firearms, endorsements, and permits to possess.

You can find more information on becoming a collector.

Can I apply for an exemption to possess a prohibited item for recreational or sporting use?

No.

Duck shooting

Can a hunter still use a semi-automatic shotgun with six or more shots during the game bird season?

Semi-automatic shotguns are now prohibited firearms except for those with a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding no more than 5 cartridges.

Prohibited firearms cannot be used without an endorsement and permit.

Is a two cartridge magazine extender on the end of a three shot fixed tubular magazine still lawful for a semi-automatic or a pump action shotgun?

Yes, provided the magazine(s) cannot hold a total of more than five cartridges (commensurate with the firearm’s chamber size).

Can I use a semi-automatic shotgun with a tubular magazine capacity of five 3 ½" cartridges in light of the fact it could hold six 2 ¾" cartridges?

The magazine capacity is measured commensurate with the firearm’s chamber size. If the firearm is chambered for 3 ½ inch cartridges and is capable of holding no more than five of those cartridges, then it is not a prohibited firearm and can still be used with a standard firearms licence.

Would it be illegal to put six 2 ¾" cartridges into the above firearm?

You should use cartridges that the shotgun is chambered for. The intent of the changes to the Act is to restrict shotguns to five cartridges.

Would it be illegal to put five 2 ¾" cartridges into the above firearm in light of the fact it could hold another cartridge?

That is within the intent of the Act.

Can parts and accessories used with newly prohibited semi-automatic shotguns be removed from that gun and used with legal semi-automatic shotguns?

Not if the part is a prohibited part.

Can I use a pump-action shotgun?

Provided is not a pump action shotgun that:

  • Is capable of being used with a detachable magazine; or
  • Has a non-detachable tubular magazine capable of holding more than 5 rounds.

Can you pin or modify a tubular magazine to be compliant?

Firearms licence holders with shotguns or .22 calibre or smaller rimfire rifles that have a fixed tubular magazine may consider getting the magazines altered to be compliant with the amended Act. This means that the tubular magazines would need to be permanently altered so that:

  1. .22 calibre or smaller rimfire rifles with fixed tubular magazines were reduced to hold a maximum of 10 rounds;
  2. Pump action or semi-automatic shotguns with fixed tubular magazines were reduced to hold a maximum of five cartridges, based on the chamber size;
  3. Permanent alteration means cutting back of the tubular magazine or permanently blocking the magazine; and
  4. If a gunsmith is used for an alternation then records of the work undertaken should be kept.

Altered firearms that are now compliant with the Act are able to be used.

What instructions are being given to Police working with Fish and Game rangers on opening day?

We will be taking an educational approach to engaging with duck shooters and rangers.

Does the new law affect the shotgun ammunition I can use?

No