Firearms changes FAQs April 2019

Issued by NZ Police

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 buyback 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 buyback 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?


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.

When will the buyback 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 formwill 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 buyback?

People who have already handed in prohibited firearms may be eligible for the future buyback. The details of the buyback 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 buyback 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 buyback?

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

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.

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.

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?


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 buyback 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.

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.

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?


Is there a complaints process I can access?

As part of the buyback compensation scheme there will be an appeals process.