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Legal Information on airguns

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    Posted: 09 Mar 2013 at 3:55pm
The Arms Act 1983 also controls airguns.

An airgun is any air rifle, pistol or weapon that has a gas or compressed air firing mechanism. Under the Arms Act 1983, ‘airgun’ includes air rifles, air pistols, BB guns, soft air pellet guns and paintball guns.
Some more powerful airguns are defined in the Arms Act 1983 as ‘firearms’; check the Arms Act or with your Arms Officer.

Special message to parents
Some parents worry when their child expresses an interest in airguns. But owning an airgun and using it under your supervision can be a positive step in developing safe firearm routines. An air rifle is preferable to an air pistol. It is an ideal first gun which a young person can learn to handle responsibly and safely. The NZMSC offers a free firearm safety lecture. Contact your local Police Arms Officer for details.

For a beginner a .177 calibre air rifle is inexpensive and will provide plenty of cheap, safe practice. The Police have published a free pamphlet on this called Beginning with air guns. Other types of airgun are available, including ‘soft’ airguns that fire a plastic pellet at fairly low velocity. Soft airguns are usually made to look like real pistols or military firearms – they are not toys and like all airguns are controlled by the Arms Act. You should never use an airgun in situations where it might be mistaken for a real firearm.

Who may use airguns
Anyone 18 years of age or older can possess and use an airgun.

Anyone under 18 years of age may use an airgun if:

    They hold a New Zealand Firearms Licence* or they are under the ‘immediate supervision’ of a firearms licence holder or a person 18 years of age or older.
    Anyone under 16 years of age must always be under the ‘immediate supervision’ of a firearms licence holder or a person 18 years of age or older.

* Note: You must be 16 years of age or older to apply for a New Zealand Firearms Licence.

‘Immediate supervision’ means that the licensed or older person is within reach and in control of the person using the airgun. The person providing the supervision must be able to take control of the airgun. They cannot be in possession or control of another firearm or airgun. On a range or paintball field: the rules in place, fenced field and supervision of umpires, referees or Range Officer go toward immediate

Young airgun owners
If you are 16 or 17 you can see the Arms Officer at a Police station about getting a firearms licence. The Arms Officer will give you a free copy of the Arms Code for you to study. You will be asked to give the names of 2 people, one a close relative. The Police will ask these people if you are a suitable person to use and possess firearms.

You will also be asked to attend a firearms safety lecture run by the NZMSC. Next, you sit a written test and are issued a certificate when you pass. The results of your test will be passed on to the Arms Officer. If the Arms Officer considers you a fit and proper person you will be issued with a firearms licence.

You can be arrested and fined and/or imprisoned:

    If you possess or carry an airgun without a lawful purpose.
    If you carelessly use an airgun.
    For firing an airgun in a way that may endanger, annoy or frighten anyone or harm property.
    For unlawfully pointing an airgun at someone.
    If you sell or supply an airgun to an unlicensed person under 18. This could happen if an adult buys an airgun as a gift for a child.

Fully automatic airguns
If you own fully automatic airguns you must by law have a firearms licence with a Restricted Weapons endorsement. Although the guns are air powered, their firing mechanism means they are restricted weapons. As well as the correct endorsement you will need to have secure storage facilities for your fully automatic airgun.

Safe storage of airguns
An airgun can cause serious injury if used incorrectly. When you are not using your airgun, it should be locked away in a safe place inaccessible to children.

Where and when can i use my airgun?
Airguns are used for target shooting, either at club, national or international competitions or on private property. More powerful airguns may be used for bird and small pest control.
Airguns may be used safely at home by setting up a properly constructed range in your backyard or basement. In this way you can enjoy your airgun in a safe and responsible way.
  • Your range must have a ‘backstop’ e.g. a solid fence or wall.
  • No one should be able to walk between the target and your airgun while you are shooting.
  • The target needs to be fixed to a ‘pellet trap’ e.g. a cardboard box full of sand.
  • Think about where the pellet will go if it misses the target or ricochets off paths, walls and other hard surfaces.
More information can be found on the New Zealand Police website

Edited by Nunga - 26 Mar 2014 at 9:24am
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