Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, here's how it will affect gun owners.
This Q&A was released as part of a statement by the government:
1. What semi-automatic firearms will be affected by the ban?
The ban will apply to all firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs) and will also include assault rifles.
2. What semi-automatic firearms will NOT be affected by the ban?
There is a balance to be struck between public safety and legitimate use. The changes exclude two general classes of firearms which are commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting:
- Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds
- Semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds
3. What semi-automatic firearms are affected by Thursday's Order in Council?
Two types of firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs):
- A semi-automatic firearm capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges
- A semi-automatic shotgun capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges
4. I have an A-Category firearms licence and now own MSSAs. What should I do?
It would normally be an offence for an A-Category licence holder to possess an MSSA, punishable by up to three years in prison or a $4000 fine. However a transitional period gives time for people to comply with the law, if they take certain steps. The transitional period will be confirmed next month. Firearms owners who unlawfully possess an MSSA now have three options:
- Voluntarily surrender the firearm to Police for safe disposal.
- Complete an online form on the Police website to arrange for the MSSA to be collected, while details are finalised for compensation under a buy back scheme
- Sell or gift the firearm to a person who has an E-Category licence and a 'permit to procure' the weapon
5. Are Police geared up to receive large numbers of MSSAs?
Yes. They will work with the New Zealand Defence Force to enable safe storage, transport and destruction of MSSAs. Police are establishing an online form which will make it easier for firearms owners to arrange for Police to collect the MSSAs. The online form will go live over the weekend. It will not be practicable for firearms owners to physically return their weapons to Police stations without prior approval. Where extra administrative staff are required they will be hired on fixed-term contracts.
6. Will this lead to stockpiling of semi-automatics?
No. The changes under the Order in Council take effect immediately. Anyone who now unlawfully has an MSSA, which yesterday was a lawful firearm, needs to take steps to comply with the law.
7. Will some firearms dealers be breaking the law if they have these MSSAs in stock?
Some firearms dealers only hold A-category licences. In order to comply with the law, they could sell their stock of semi-automatics to a Category E licence holder or return them to their supplier.
8. What are the statistics for firearms licences and firearms in circulation?
- There are 245,000 firearms licences
- Of these, 7,500 are E-Category licences; and 485 are dealer licences
- There are 13,500 firearms which require the owner to have an E-Cat licence, this is effectively the known number of MSSAs before today's changes
- The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be 1.2-1.5 million
9. What further issues are being considered?
Cabinet will consider further steps on 25 March. These will include measures to:
- Tighten firearms licensing and penalties
- Impose greater controls over a range of ammunition
- Address a number of other issues relevant to special interest groups such as international sports shooters and professional pest controllers, such as DoC.
- Future proof the Arms Act to ensure it is able to respond to developments in technology and society
10. How will the buyback work, and who will administer it?
Police, the Treasury and other agencies are working through the detail. More information will be available when the legislation is introduced next month. The compensation will be fair and reasonable based on firearm type, average prices and the age of firearms.
11. What is the cost of the buyback likely to be?
That is very difficult to judge, given the limited information about the total number of firearms affected by this change. Preliminary advice suggests it could be in the range of $100m-$200m. The buyback will ensure these weapons are taken out of circulation and that we fulfil our obligations under the law.