The Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) considered the policy in light of an extensive consultation with user groups and the review of case law and practice, and given the explanation that follows. You will note that there is little change from current policy except for item 8 below.

Section 18(2) of the Arms Act 1983 requires that a special reason exists before a pistol, restricted weapon or MSSA is allowed into New Zealand. (Arms Officers note: the
delegation to issue or refuse permits under this section is to the Manager Licensing and Vetting. Arms Officers may ensure that an application is complete however OAC was concerned that the application should not be refused except by the delegated member).

An Arms Amendment currently before Parliament, and which has had its second reading, creates an item to be known as a 'restricted airgun'. If passed into law restricted airguns will be airguns that look like real pistols, restricted weapons or MSSAs. The aim is to
control the entry into New Zealand of these, usually BB soft airguns. They will be brought within the special reason provisions of section 18(2) of the Arms Act 1983. Policy has been prepared ahead of and to inform the legislative process and only comes into effect on the passing of the legislation. I will distribute that policy when the Bill becomes law.

Policy on the importation of pistols was approved by the Police Executive Operations Committee on 1 December 1999 (Arms Manual 2002, appendix 8.2). This outlines special reasons to import pistols, including for the purposes of collecting. These provisions have been extended to restricted weapons.

Special reasons applying to MSSAs have been on a case by case basis, with the most common special reason being the replacement, and unconditional surrender of a worn MSSA (approved by PEC in 1996).

COLFO (Council of Licensed Firearms Owners) is a legal entity representing firearms user groups (which are incorporated in their own right). COLFO is also a UN recognised Non Governmental Organisation (NGO). COLFO has requested that the special reasons policy be
reviewed, codified and extended to include MSSAs and what will be known as restricted airguns.

The benefits of this are clarity to the holders of the delegation to issue permits to import; national consistency (Arms Officers currently refuse to accept applications because they
don't consider the reasons 'special'); simple language compared to the current
policy; transparent; and widely consulted.

This policy includes that 'participating in an identifiable shooting discipline or sport at an
incorporated sports club with rules encouraging safe and legal use of firearms and a range certified for the shooting activity and intends to use the MSSA in an event at that sports club' is a special reason to import an MSSA. This differs from the 1996 PEC paper in that the applicant would not be required to surrender another MSSA. The 1996 PEC policy states: 'consideration can be given to allowing an applicant to import a better or more recent MSSA than the one to be handed into Police. Examples of a special reason in this case would be an active member of a shooting club who needs a better firearm to be more
competitive in his/her grade'.

The policy aligns licence holders in New Zealand with visitors. The schedule to the Arms
Regulations 1992 provides that the holder of a visitor licence be issued the endorsement to possess an MSSA for this purpose. Arguably this is a statutory special reason that this policy extends to licence holders in New Zealand.

OAC  noted that while not requiring the surrender of an MSSA the threshold for this reason to become 'special' is higher than the 1996 policy, with the applicant for the permit to
import having to meet six criteria: 

    'participating in an identifiable shooting discipline or sport

  • AND at an incorporated sports club

  • AND with rules encouraging safe and legal use of firearms and

  • AND a range certified for the shooting activity and

  • AND intends to use the MSSA in an event at that sports club'
    AND demonstrates that the MSSA is not readily available inNew Zealand.

If using this as their 'special reason' applicants for a permit to import will need to attach supporting documentation on each point.

The Arms Manual will be amended.The attached policy replaces appendix 8.2 of the Arms Manual 2002.

Police acknowledges the work carried out by COLFO in ensuring full consultation with broad
representation of user groups over a 12 month period.

Policy Released by the NZ Police Operations Advisory Committee (17/07/2012)


Draft letter to for a "Permit to Import"

To assist firearm owners with an application for a permit to import we have ataached below, a draft Application for a permit to import example.  While this does not cover every special reason, it gives an applicant a format to follow that ensures they cover off all of the points an arms officer will look for in assessing an application.

Permission to reproduced this letter has been given by COLFO (Click here)