Politics of Owning Firearms: Advocacy Update

2024 is going to be an intense year of firearms law changes. 2020 to 2023 were just a warm up.


18 March 2024

NZDA, and the whole firearms community need to be ready with ideas, policies and capacity to engage with government and lawmakers. You need to share this with all your contacts and begin raising your voice with local politicians to ensure that we are heard at all levels. 

Here's why:

The factors affecting licensed firearm owners are set to change again, and it's not all good news. Although many of us may have accepted the changes to semi-automatic firearm laws as we believed that it would not affect our right to use bolt-action hunting rifles. But now anti-gun groups have started calling for additional restrictions to air guns. A reminder that we must stay vigilant if we are to ensure future generations have access to firearms for hunting, animal-control, and shooting sports. 

The Government has begun to deliver on campaign promises to deliver more effective firearm laws that are fit and proper for a modern New Zealand, however there is resistance at all levels including delivering on their 100 day firearm related promises. 

This update will give you an overview of the law changes, current discussion points, and recent media articles. 

The topics we will cover are: 


  • A new Arms Act, Section 6 repeal, and the firearm registry

  • Firearm Prohibition orders

  • Calls for further restrictions on Air Rifle

  • Semi Automatic firearms being debated

  • Disproportionate response to criminal using firearms without a license

It should come as no surprise that the NZDA is working with stakeholders across the board to represent the views of recreational hunters. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure future generations can hunt, shoot, and enjoy their legal use of firearms without unnecessary regulatory burdens and cost. 


National's coalition agreement with ACT included an agreement on firearms law reform.

This included rewriting the Arms Act 1983, transferring responsibility for that act to the Ministry of Justice, and transferring the Firearms Safety Authority to another department such as the Department of Internal Affairs.

The agreement also included a review of the Firearms Registry and its use in improving public safety and the repeal and replacement of Part 6 of the Arms Act relating to shooting clubs and ranges.

The only part of those reforms to make it into the Government's 100-day plan was the repeal and replacement of Part 6 of the Arms Act. Although work began in January, the Government has failed to agree on a process to deliver this, proving that we cannot be complacent in our advocacy even with a government that is not openly hostile towards licensed firearm owners.

ACT's firearms policy said the Labour-led government's gun laws had punished licensed firearms owners and burdened shooting clubs and ranges.

"Clubs and ranges play a core role in improving firearms safety, but they are closing under the weight of current legal requirements which need to be reversed," the party said.

The Firearm Registry

In January the Firearms Registry celebrated 100k firearms and parts, with approximately 10% compliance from licensed firearm owners. 

Deerstalkers Association Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow told 1News: "We're opposed to it [the register] because it's making licensed lawful firearms owners do administrative steps whereas police should be focused on gangs, criminals, and unlawful firearms use."

COLFO Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack added to this, highlighting that the fact so few licensed firearm owners had registered was indicative of low support from the firearm community. This was because licensed owners are doing their best to avoid activating circumstances that require them to register which is evidenced by lower recorded sales by dealers and on sites like TradeMe. COLFO also criticized the introduction of the register after OIA's revealed information that undermined claims made in support of the register was not disclosed to Parliament.

Though the future of the register is uncertain, it is important to ensure that all licensed firearm owners comply with the law and register your firearms if you have a triggering event. Failure to do so will lead to your firearms license being revoked.



New Gun Protection Powers will Help Police

The Government is continuing its work to restore law and order, announcing new measures that will enable police to crack down on gangs through Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs). 

“Firearms are being illegally used by gangs to intimidate, to commit violent crime in support of their profit making, and to initiate gang warfare that law-abiding citizens get stuck in the middle of. This can’t be allowed to continue, this Government is going to take their illegally held firearms off them,” says Associate Minister of Justice (Firearms) Nicole McKee


“The Firearms Prohibition Orders Legislation Amendment Bill gives effect to the Government’s 100-day commitment to give Police greater powers to search gang members for firearms. 

“The courts will be able to issue orders to any member or associate of a gang that has been convicted of a significant offence. Police will also be granted new powers to search offenders with a FPO, their vehicles, and their premises for firearms at any time.

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of gang members and high-risk offenders is needed to ensure public safety. 

“The Bill also amends the FPO regime to allow people subject to an order to apply to the court after five years to have their FPO varied, modified, or revoked. If someone can demonstrate that they no longer pose a risk to public safety, then they should be treated as such, but if they continue with their antisocial behaviour and put others in harm then it is in the public’s interest to make sure they can’t get their hands on more illegal firearms.

“The Government’s first job is to keep law-abiding New Zealanders safe from criminals. These changes will make New Zealand a safer place.” 

‘Not children’s toys’: Trauma surgeons call for stricter rules on deadly air rifles

New Zealand trauma surgeons who treat gunshot victims tested easily-available air rifles and found they were potentially lethal from 10m.

The two doctors now want the modern, spring-loaded weapons to be regulated in the same way as other firearms. Gun Control New Zealand were quick to speak in support of further restrictions on air rifles. 

They have also called for further restrictions both on pump-action shotguns highlighting that continued advocacy from NZDA and COLFO is important to ensure future generations are able to legally use firearms without unnecessary restrictions from minority groups who are popular with the public.

Semi-automatics on the table in gun laws shake-up

Semi-automatics could make a return to gun ranges with New Zealand's firearms laws in for a major shake-up this term.

National and ACT agreed to rewrite the Arms Act - in place since the early 1980s - as part of its coalition arrangement.

Everything is on the table, including changing the existing licensing regime and re-introducing the military-style weapons used in the 15 March terror attacks.

"It means starting from scratch," Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee told RNZ.

"There's nothing set in stone as we advance this process. The reason why the 1983 Act lasted so long is because there was genuine and good consultation."

The Arms Act 1983 has been home to New Zealand's gun laws for the past four decades and has had many iterations.

McKee said she wanted to change the current licensing system to a graduated system to "enhance public safety".

"Ensuring licensed firearms owners are fit and proper through a graduated system of licensing where people earn trust over time, and a licensing agency carrying out a range of checks, is the sensible way of ensuring public safety."

Also on the table is allowing competitive shooters to use semi-automatics for sport. The only current exemptions are pest control and (disabled) collector's items.

"Over 5000 people, deemed to have a proper purpose, already have a licence for centre-fire semi-automatic firearms. Under the rewrite of the Arms Act, a person would still need a legitimate reason to have a centre-fire semi-automatic firearm," McKee said.


"Meanwhile, higher security and storage requirement would be required and large capacity magazines would continue to be unavailable to those without the proper, vetted endorsement."

Read More


Sentence for firing shot to intimidate is a ‘slap on the wrist’

This month an individual operating as a hunting guide was prosecuted for discharging a firearm to intimidate other hunters in the area. The individual had his firearms license revoked in 2021 after behaviour which led to Police deeming him no longer fit and proper.

Isaac Roberto Macdonald-Maynard, 24, was guiding three people on a hunting trip in the Otago mountain range on March 31, 2022, when he saw the other hunting party about 400m away.

Police say MacDonald-Maynard, who was guiding some hunters and carrying his own rifle despite having his license revoked. He became "enraged they had returned to the same spot, and began yelling obscenities and abuse at them" before firing a shot into the ground near him.

In court, he claimed to have fired the shot into the ground, near his feet, to alert the group to his own party’s presence, and did not intend to frighten or intimidate them.

Judge Russell Walker, who noted MacDonald-Maynard’s seven previous convictions and extensive demerit history, refused his application for a discharge without conviction, and told him "you don’t appear to regard rules as applying to you".

Macdonald-Maynard was convicted on all charges except the second suspended driving charge, for which he received a discharge without conviction.

He was sentenced to 75 hours’ community work, fined $350, court costs of $130 and disqualified from driving for six months.

However, the victim said after waiting two years for the outcome, they were shocked by the lightness of the sentence and how their complaint had been handled by police.

"It was a serious firearms incident, but their attitude was ‘we’ll catch up with him when we catch up with him’."

Given the enthusiasm with which police seem to pursue licensed firearm owners, it seems disproportionate when compared to the response to an unlicensed criminal in this case. 

Point of Contact:

Gwyn Thurlow- CEO
Wellington Branch

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