Firearms licence (New Zealand)
- anyone wishing to possess or use firearms,
- arms dealers, and their employees, and
- anyone under 18 years of age who wants to use or possess air guns.
Self-defence is not a valid reason to possess firearms in New Zealand.
There are exemptions from the need for a licence for police, military and related occupations, and for the use of firearms when closely supervised by licence-holders. In addition certain types of firearms - such as humane killers, tranquiliser guns, flare pistols, antiques - may be used and possessed without a licence.
The statutory basis for licensing of firearms use in New Zealand is laid out in the Arms Act and Arms Regulations. The act is administered by the New Zealand Police, according to policies documented in the Police Arms Manual.
Granting of licences
A privilege is a right, immunity or advantage protected by law. The Arms Act states that firearms licences shall be issued to fit and proper persons. This is directive not discretionary. The licences are issued - not granted.
To be granted a licence, the applicant must:
- Be 16 or older;
- Be a "fit and proper person" to possess and use firearms;
- Attend a safety lecture given by a volunteer from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council;
- Pass a written test based on the material in the Arms Code, a booklet compiled jointly by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council and the Police;
- Have a police officer inspect the security at the applicant's home (a gun rack, safe, strongroom or "receptacle of stout construction" is required);
- Undergo an interview with a police officer;
- Provide two referees, one a relative and one not, to vouch for the applicant;
- Pay NZD$126.50.
Licences are issued for a period of 10 years.
The "fit and proper person" test
As part of the application for a licence, the police will assess whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to possess and use firearms. An applicant will not be considered fit and proper if he/she:
- has been subject to a protection order;
- has shown disregard for the Arms Act or Arms Regulations, e.g. through a series of minor infractions;
- has been involved in substance abuse;
- has committed a serious criminal offence or any crimes involving violence or drugs;
- is affiliated with a criminal gang;
- has perpetrated acts or threats of domestic violence;
- exhibits signs of mental ill health;
- has attempted to commit suicide or displayed other self injurious behaviour.
The "general" (or "type A") licence gives permission to own and use "sporting configuration" firearms. A sporting configuration firearm is a rifle or shotgun that does not meet the legal definition of any of a Military-Style Semi-Automatic (MSSA), "Restricted Weapon" or "pistol". Sporting configuration firearms are not individually registered, and licence-holders may own as many as they wish and buy or sell them freely from/to other licence-holders or dealers.
Under certain circumstances, a licence may carry endorsements to allow the possession and use of other types of weapons, as follows:
|B||Allows the holder to possess and use pistols. Granted only to bona fide members of pistol clubs. Weapons held under a "B" endorsement may only be fired at an approved pistol range, and are subject to strict controls on carriage away from the owner's home.|
|C||Allows the holder to possess and use pistols and restricted weapons. Granted only to bona fide collectors, to people for whom a particular weapon has a special significance (e.g. as an heirloom), to museum curators, and to theatre, film and TV production armourers. Weapons held under a "C" endorsement may not be fired with live ammunition, though blanks may be fired for film, TV and theatre purposes.|
|E||Allows the holder to possess and use MSSAs. Granted only to applicants showing a genuine reason for needing to use an MSSA - such as professional hunting, or participation in service-rifle or IPSC 3-gun competitions.|
|D, F||Special endorsements for firearms dealers.|
Endorsements are granted only after further police vetting, and a higher standard of firearm storage security is required. Each application for an endorsement costs NZ$200.
Weapons other than sporting-configuration rifles and shotguns must be individually registered, and transfer of possession is subject to prior approval by the police.
Visitors to New Zealand may be granted a temporary visitor's licence. "B" or "E" endorsements may be included on the licence when appropriate (e.g. an overseas competitor in a pistol shooting competition).