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New Zealand Gun Laws


New Zealand Gun Laws

New Zealand Gun Laws

Approximately two hundred thirty thousand owners of licensed firearms possess and use an estimated one million firearms in New Zealand. Unlike in Canada and the United States, but as in Australia, gun laws frequently win the support of all major parties prior to being passed.

Before, guns were not a major political issue, but had become so immediately following the 1990 Aramoana massacre, and the 1996 Australian Port Arthur and Scottish Dunblane massacres.
Several different government officials, groups which spearheaded the Thorp Report, and the police of New Zealand have lobbied for several kinds of universal registration for firearms.


Currently, these endeavors have not as yet succeeded but some machinations by New Zealand’s Police are trying to re-classify several 'A' level firearms as 'E' level firearms or MSSA (Military Style Semi-Automatics) and therefore they must be registered.
This has been accomplished even though they admit that the New Zealand Police cannot consistently register today’s MSSA firearms.
Gun laws in New Zealand are conspicuously more tolerant than other Pacific countries, mainly focusing on testing firearm owners, instead of focusing on the registration of firearms or outlawing certain kinds of firearms. The Arms Act provides the legislation that governs firearms even though more strict and unofficial police and government policies are also in force.

Anyone purchasing firearms or ammo, whether from a dealer or private transaction, must provide their firearms license.


Additionally, a permit to purchase must be taken out before transactions are completed for pistols, MSSA’s, and controlled weapons.

Mail order purchases are allowed, but a signature from a police officer is required in order to verify that the buyer has a firearms license.
Firearms were first introduced in New Zealand by European settlers, and were used for trade with several native Maori. This partly led to the Musket Wars of the early nineteenth century.


In 1845, the first laws on gun control were enacted, but pioneer regulations were unsuccessful until the 1860 Arms Act was passed, which mandated the registration of firearms, and licenses to posses for both purchasers and firearms dealers.

Early gun laws in New Zealand were mainly focused on the Maori during the land disputes in Taranaki and Waikato, and in the end 1880s were mostly suspended. Gun laws were un-enforced and ignored around 1910 as crime and the possibility of political unrest were mostly non-existent.

1912-1913 strikes, a Russian Communist revolution, and great numbers of guns which were ex-military entering the country after WWI led to the government passing a new gun law in 1920.

It mandated the registration of each and every existing firearm and the issuance of a procurement permit before a firearm was purchased.

Gun Laws NZ

In the 1970s and 1980s, several new gun laws were passed, recommending more checks by the government, the registration of shotguns and private licensing.

A 1982 internal report conducted by the police criticized the proposals, stating that there was no proof that registration helped lessen crimes, and that it was a waste of money and time to process registrations; that the funds would be better spent on other police efforts.



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