Gun law changes: What you need to know

The Government has announced a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. 

"Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in Parliament on Thursday. 

"Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand." 

The changes have been introduced after the alleged Christchurch gunman, a 28-year-old Australian national, legally obtained assault rifles on an A Category gun licence - the standard license held by gun owners in New Zealand. 

While the ban has been welcomed by the opposition National Party as well as other groups, there will be many questions about what the new law changes mean. 

Here's what you need to know

  • The ban will apply to all firearms defined as military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs) and will also include assault rifles, a sub category of semi-automatics
  • MSSAs include: semi-automatics capable of being used with a detachable magazine with more than five cartridges; and semi-automatic shotguns capable of being used with a detachable magazine holding more than five cartridges
  • The changes exclude two general classes of firearms commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms and duck shooting
  • Those include: semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds; and semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds
  • A transitional period will allow time for those possessing an MSSA to hand in their firearms. The period will be confirmed next month
  • MSSA holders have three options: voluntarily surrender the firearm to police for disposal; complete an online form on the police website to arrange for it to be collected; or give it to someone with an E Category licence who must then dispose of it
  • The changes take effect immediately. Anyone who now unlawfully has an MSSA, which yesterday was a lawful firearm, needs to take steps to comply with the law
  • Police are establishing an online form which will make it easier for firearms owners to arrange for police to collect the MSSAs. The online form will go live this weekend
  • The Government says it will not be practicable for firearms owners to physically return their weapons to police stations without prior approval
  • The compensation for returned firearms will be "fair and reasonable based on firearm type, average prices and the age of firearms", the Government says. 
  • The Government will consider further steps on March 25, including measures to tighten firearms licensing and penalties, impose greater controls over a range of ammunition and future-proof the Arms Act to ensure it is able to respond to developments in technology and society