Firearms changes FAQs

Last updated 17 April 2019

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?

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.

Will police be checking magazine capacity on opening day?

Police will be carrying out routine Police operations which includes engaging with duck shooters during the season, with a focus on educating firearm users around the new laws.

What will happen if someone is caught using a semi-automatic shotgun with six or more shots on opening day?

This will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Police apply discretion across all policing activities every day. It is still an offence to carry a firearm without some lawful, proper, and sufficient purpose.

The transitional amnesty covers continued possession.

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

No

Parts

What is a prohibited part?

Prohibited parts are:

  • Any part designed or intended to be an integral part of a prohibited firearm.
    • Examples include: butt, stock, silencer, sight
  • Any component that can be applied to enable a firearm fire with (or near to) semi-automatic or automatic action.
    • Examples include: gas block, gas tube, sub-calibre conversion kit.

Can I still use a suppressor?

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

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

How does the amnesty process work?

The amnesty from prosecution for possession of prohibited firearms, parts, and magazines will run for six months from the time the buy-back scheme is put in place by regulation.

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. This will enable Police to contact you in the future about the process for handing in your firearm/s and about the buy-back for prohibited items.

Please do not hand your firearm/s into Police at this stage.

Can firearms that are not prohibited firearms be handed in?

Yes.

Can you still hand in firearms after the amnesty period?

A firearm can be handed in at any time but prohibited firearms handed in after the Amnesty are unlikely to be eligible for compensation.

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 six-month period of the amnesty.

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

How will the hand in process work?

Police is currently developing processes for larger scale collection in communities. When processes are finalised details will be announced.

Buy-back

When will the buy-back be in place?

The details of a compensation scheme are being worked through now and information on what that looks like will be announced in due course.

Notifying Police of the prohibited items you are holding by completing the online form will mean you can be contacted about compensation and the process for handing in your prohibited item when details are finalised.

If I hand in a firearm now, am I eligible for any future buy-back?

People who have already handed in prohibited firearms may be eligible for the future buy-back. The details of the buy-back are being worked through now and information on what that looks like will be announced in due course.

How much is the government going to pay?

The details of this are being worked through and more information will be provided in due course.

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

The details of this are being worked through and more information will be provided in due course. 

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.

Does Police have the resources to remove all unlawful firearms from the community?

Police has the resources and is establishing a process for receiving all firearms notified to Police.

Are Police going to knock on peoples doors looking for illegal firearms?

Police will communicate widely with the public to outline the process for handing in any prohibited items they may be holding.

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 the monitoring of compliance of all licence holders.

Exemptions

How do I apply for an exemption for my business?

It is important existing pest controllers should complete the online form and note themselves as pest controllers if they intend to apply for an exemption.

Dealers and collectors should securely store their prohibited firearms and Police will be in further contact regarding next steps (do not complete the online form).

I have a C-endorsement. Can I move my E-cat firearms to my C-endorsement?

There will be processes developed for collectors to apply for exemptions.

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

No.

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. There have already been more than 1000 people who have notified us of their intention to hand over their firearms to Police.

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.

Is there a complaints process I can access?

As part of the buy-back compensation scheme there will be an appeals process.