As of 3pm on March 21, a wide range of semi-automatic weapons have been reclassified undersection 74A(c) of the Arms Actas requiring an E endorsement on a firearms license. This means they can no longer be sold to those with A-category gun licenses, and their purchase now requires police approval.
The reclassification is an interim measure in the first stage of changes to New Zealand’s gun laws, which were signalled on the day of the Christchurch attack by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardernsays.
“Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch. Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand.”
Related parts used to convert guns into MSSAs are also to be banned, along with all high-capacity magazines. All semi-automatic weapons used during the March 15 attack will be banned.
An amnesty is being put in place so the public can hand their banned weapons in to the police – they are urged to notify police in advance before arriving at police stations with their weapons – and a buy-back scheme is in development with further details to be announced.
Exemptions will be allowed for those, such as police, the Defence Force and professional pest controllers, with legitimate uses for weapons of this type. Weapons which serve “legitimate purposes in our farming community”, such as 0.22 calibre rifles and popular duck-hunting shotguns, will also be subject to exemption but with limitations around their capacity in place.
“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride,” Ardern says.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says the Government is taking immediate action to pre-empt stockpiling of banned weapons.