National Rifle Association of New Zealand

COLFO Column for September

Dear Members

The focus of this bi-monthly column is to follow on from the lobbying we have undertaken on behalf of firearm owners and to ask you to approach your local member of parliament to introduce yourself as a responsible voter in their community.

As reported in the last column, the Council has been lobbying members of parliament with updated research in regard to firearms in New Zealand and similar societies.  This has been in the form of one email per month for the last six months.  If you are interested in the emails these are available in the news section of the COLFO website.

We have also provided a guide for firearm owners to use in approaching their local member of parliament.  We ask that you send them an email or arrange to meet them personally.  The point of this meeting or email could be to introduce yourself as part of their community, to put a face to a responsible licensed firearms owner that just wants to enjoy their interest in a safe and considerate way. 

We have received confirmation from the police that they have completed their review of procedures for the applying for a permit to import a restricted firearm for "Special reasons". 

This affects categories B, C, D and E endorsed licensed firearm owners.  Section 18.2. of the Arms Act states "...shall be granted otherwise than by the Commissioner who shall first be satisfied that there are special reasons why the pistol, military style semi-automatic firearm, or restricted weapon or parts to which the application relates should be allowed into New Zealand." 

The Council asked police national headquarters how this process works between types of firearms and what guidance material was available to arms officers to assist them in applying the process consistently across the districts.  As a result of this, the police engaged in a process that took just over a year and has resulted in them circulating a guidance document to all arms officers to ensure the process is consistently applied across the country. 

The police operations executive also reviewed the policy as it applies to the various classes of firearms and has agreed to allow MSSAs to be imported, without surrender, by sporting shooters who wish to compete in national competitions.  This is significant and aligns to their policy regarding competitive pistol and MSSA shooting. 

We recommend you carefully consider the requirements for a successful application to import.  If you wish to import a firearm for the purpose of hunting, competition shooting and/or collecting, state it in your application.  The reasons do not have to be exclusive, but they do have to be for recognised legal purposes.  If your application states a single reason then police may require you to sell or dispose of the firearm when it is no longer required for the purpose you specified.  Please consider carefully how you follow the guidance to ensure you understand the process.

For some years COLFO has been involved in reviewing a series of international standards that the United Nations (UN) is proposing for national arms controls.  These include the rights and privileges of civilian firearms owners, the storage of firearms and ammunition as well as the transfer of firearms nationally and internationally. 

This is the most comprehensive work undertaken to date by the UN on arms control.  It could have a large impact on civilian firearms manufacture and ownership. 

The Council sent a representative to attend the Conference of the Program of Action in New York, from the 27th August 2012.  We were supported as part of the official New Zealand delegation at the UN.  While the conference was for two weeks we attended for the first week to keep costs down.  The program is intended to control the transfer of illicit small arms, however the agreement between 193 countries is potentially of concern as it does not recognise legal civilian ownership of firearms.

Our attending was to achieve a number of goals:

  • First, with the assistance of New Zealand mission staff a CD on how successful New Zealand firearms legislation has been was placed before each delegate. This CD is based on recent research compiled by Chaz Forsyth, who we are indebted to for the dedication and generosity he has shown COLFO over a number of years;
  • Second, we met with delegates from various countries and agencies to pass on that New Zealand is in a unique position with both a very safe society and a wide range of firearm user privileges that we can show how civilian firearm ownership can be successful;
  • Last, to discuss with the diplomat responsible for negotiating the NZ position how we can have civilian ownership recognized.

If you have any thoughts or feedback please email me at

All the best

Michael Dowling