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Farming: Tightening gun control, impact on New Zealand farmers

11 Apr 2019

the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill is now law of the land.

We all know the background to this rapidly moving law which was introduced on 1 April 2019.  Eight days from start to finish. Some have de-cried the fast passage of the Bill; most of us must wait years to see our favorite legislation pass through Parliament.

I can understand the speed in this case. The public want to see action and in fact demand it. Speed may limit the time given to people to purchase and stockpile what will shortly be banned weapons or parts, although I suspect the legislation is retrospective to 22 March 2019 which was when the government released a summary of the proposed bill.

I was born into a gun and rifle-loving family. I owned three of them by the age of 12. My grandfather was a well-known hunter of African animals in what is now Zambia in the 1920s and he shot the first Wapiti under license in New Zealand in 1923 which held the record for the size of its antlers for many years. My father was the captain of the New Zealand Rifle Shooting team to Bisley in 1960. Rifles and guns were in our blood.

I haven’t used a gun for about 45 years myself, but I was interested to find out, what are the likely impacts of the pending gun legislation on farmers?

I have read parts of the Act and have spoken to several people involved in making submissions to the Bill and here is my understanding of the final legislation.

Farmers (and others) will be able to continue to own and use:

  • Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire rifles so long as their magazines hold 10 or fewer rounds. Ideal for limited pest control.
  • Semi-automatic or pump-action shotguns so long as their non-detachable tubular magazines hold 5 or fewer rounds. Ideal for duck shooting. No shotguns permitted with detachable magazines.
  • Doc and regional councils or their licensed contractors will be allowed to use what would otherwise be prohibited weapons for pest control on Doc land and Regional Council land.
  • Licensed contractors undertaking pest control on private land will also be permitted to use prohibited weapons. Private land owners will not be able to carry out the pest control work themselves. They will have to use licensed private contractors.
  • It will be prohibited to own or possess any detachable magazine that can hold more than 10 cartridges that can be used by a semi or fully automatic firearm or more than 5 cartridges for a shotgun, or any other magazine that can hold more than 10 cartridges.
  • It will be prohibited to own or possess any part of a prohibited firearm that could be used to enable a firearm to be fired with a semi-automatic action.

Interestingly the Bill prohibits magazines and parts as much as it prohibits the guns themselves, hence the protracted name of the Bill.

  • There is an exemption for those who have a concession granted by the Minister of Conservation to undertake wild animal recovery.
  • There are narrow exemptions for bona fide collectors, directors or curators of bone fide museums and theatre, film and television companies.
  • There is an amnesty to encourage the removal of prohibited firearms, magazines and parts from the community. Licensed dealers or the Police can receive these items and the amnesty ends on 30 September 2019 (six months).
  • The amnesty allows time for those gun licensees who are currently in possession of prohibited articles to apply for the necessary endorsement or permits required to continue under the new legislation.
  • Maximum penalties range from 2 to 10 years in prison.

The Police will shortly begin a publicity campaign to explain the new laws, once they are passed.

All in all, it appears that a pragmatic approach has been taken. A hunter friend of mine agrees that it seems sensible. A small sample, I know, but generally I think they have done a good job on what is a big issue with strong opinions on both side of the subject.

Keep asking great questions …

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