Questions Arise Over How Many Semi-Autos Owned in New Zealand

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

In the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, New Zealand did what a lot of people think the US should do. They banned semi-automatic centerfire guns.

Now, this accounts for a lot of handguns as well, including the most popular firearms for self-defense in the nation, but New Zealand doesn't have a Second Amendment. They have nothing to protect the right to keep and bear arms, thus nothing to prevent the government from being completely stupid.


However, it seems some are having second thoughts on the ban.

What's more, others are accusing a government official of misrepresenting the number of these guns in private hands.

The Firearms Minister is being accused of misleading the public over the number of people allowed to have prohibited semi-automatics.

Centrefire semi-automatic guns were banned after the 15 March terror attacks, bar a few carve-outs for pest control and gun collectors.

Associate Justice Minister (Firearms) Nicole McKee has repeatedy said more than 6600 New Zealanders are licensed to possess semi-automatics.

RNZ has sought clarification from Te Tari Pūreke Firearms Safety Authority about the data the police business unit holds.

It confirmed 6847 licence holders have a firearms endorsement to hold special classes of arms items.

However, only a fraction - 1593 - can hold the firearms banned by the Labour-New Zealand First coalition in 2019.

Of that number, only 328 people - pest controllers - can fire them.

The rest with prohibited endorsements have firearms for collector, theatrical or heirloom purposes and have to store a vital piece of their guns at a separate address, making them inoperable.

The bulk of the 6847 endorsements account for pistols. The Christchurch shooter was not carrying a pistol.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said McKee's comments had been very misleading.

"Clearly she is using these figures to try and suggest that semi-automatic firearms are already widely available when they're not," he said.

"That goes to the heart of why I don't believe a gun lobbyist should be in charge of the firearms reform legislation or a review of the firearms registry."


However, McKee argues that when you're talking about weapons that are vilified like this, you should be focused on how many people have access to the guns, not how many are authorized to use them.

And, frankly, she's right.

If people are inclined to act unlawfully with firearms, they're not likely to get a license to use one lawfully. They just need access to the weapons in question.

If McKee says 6,600 people are licensed to possess the firearms and 6,600 people have licenses to possess the firearms, then she's not being misleading.

What we're seeing here, though, is an anti-gun push in New Zealand to continue vilifying these weapons, all because of the actions of a single individual.

For them to do that, they have to try and paint these weapons as rare in an effort to try and argue that they're unneeded. Yet while I'm pretty sure there are more than 6,600 semi-automatics in my neighborhood compared to the entire nation of New Zealand, it's a smaller nation with a much smaller gun community. The existence of nearly 7,000 semi-automatics easily shows that most owners are law-abiding individuals.

Which undermines the argument that guns are bad. It's just that simply.

The right to keep and bear arms isn't uniquely American. It's a human right, one that crosses all borders. What's unique is that Americans had the foresight to protect it and have done so in a way that prevents these kinds of shenanigans.


My hope is that New Zealanders get their rights back and get them back soon. No one should be stripped of the means of protecting themselves.

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