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SSANZ Update: Arms Legislation Act 2020

By Phil Cregeen, SSANZ

The Act which became law on 25 June has now been consolidated into the Arms Act 1983 and can be found at:


The latest version of Arms Regulations 1992 may be found here:


We recommend that you read both the Arms Act and Regulations and try to understand how they affect your own situation.


We have posted a summary of immediate changes on the article page of our website at



Here is our league table of firearm friendly political parties with a brief summary of their position on firearms (Source - Rod & Rifle):

  1. Act - ACT’s priority is to repeal this year’s Arms Legislation Act, including the threat of a firearm register, then set about making the world’s best firearm laws that balance public safety, firearms control, and freedom. We would introduce another Bill that repeals the Arms Act 1983 - and all subsequent amendments - after the Royal Commission reports back. The new law will be delivered in the next parliamentary term and will be the envy of the world. Our Conservation and Hunting Policy will ensure that the Game Animal Council is empowered and resourced to achieve its statutory objectives.
  2. New Conservative - New Conservative will repeal the Arms Legislation Act and seek the creation of an independent authority to administer the Arms Act, similar to the NZTA’s administration of driver licences. New Conservative recognises the social and cultural significance that introduced wildlife holds for New Zealanders. Protection and regeneration of natural environments as well as wise management of designated herds is thus vital. 
  3. National - National set out amendments to the Arms Legislation Bill at its introduction. If elected, we would amend the Arms Act (1983) to give effect to the changes that were not adopted. We will remove the proposed register and certain regulating powers. National has supported the hunting community in relation to Tahr management.
  4. NZ First - NZ First is comfortable with the Arms Legislation Act as amended by them and at the time of writing had not developed a firearm policy of their own.
  5. Labour - Labour is entirely comfortable with and has no plans to amend the Arms Act changes that they have introduced over the past year. Labour recognises hunting is an important part of life for many New Zealanders, and in some cases a critical source of food. We also appreciate that sport and recreation have huge benefits for both individuals and communities. As a party, we’re committed to working alongside the sport and recreation sector, including hunters, to increase understanding and foster participation.
  6. Green - The Greens have no published firearm policy.


“Labour, Green and NZ First offer no hope of favourable change to the new firearm laws they have passed.”



Purely in relation to their relevance to the firearm owning community we conclude that ACT and New Conservative both have similar and effective pro-firearm policies with National being sympathetic but less so.


Labour, Green and NZ First offer no hope of favourable change to the new firearm laws they have passed.


With ACT performing well in the polls and showing every possibility of getting 6 or more MPs into parliament, it really is a no brainer to suggest that the best chance of a firearm friendly government in the next term is a National + Act coalition.


SSANZ recommends Party vote Act, Electoral vote National. 


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We as licensed firearm owners often are of the belief that the news media is biased against firearms, firearm owners and firearm ownership.


After undertaking some research, going back to the mid-1970s of one regional daily newspaper I can say “maybe”, but must admit that after working through reports from the Otago Daily times following the Aramoana mass homicide of November 1990, and those of the Christchurch Mosques of March 2015, that the reporting was startlingly free of emotional adjectives.


The headlines were something quite different, however, but bear in mind they serve a different purpose, that of ‘catching the eye’ not necessarily reflecting in great truth the detail of the content of the article.


“...after working through reports from the Otago Daily times following the Aramoana mass homicide of November 1990, and those of the Christchurch Mosques of March 2015, that the reporting was startlingly free of emotional adjectives.”


A recent journal article give the clearest indication yet found that the news media can and do influence government policy, in that when the Fourth Estate was prevailed upon by the Prime Minister to avoid naming the perpetrator of the massacres of Christchurch, political leaders followed that practice, and this in turn promoted the introduction of “…new gun control laws with bipartisan support” (Every-Palmer et al., 2020, p. 1).


Further evidence of such potential for bias is provided by the majority of news reports being provided with the ‘byline’ of the key contributing journalist; this it is suggested provides a vehicle for offering an opinion into a news report.


Sorting a collection of newspaper articles into those in favour of firearms and shooting, those of neutral stance, and those indicating or expressing negativism about these matters is a major task and will be undertaken soon.


I have an extensive collection of articles from the Otago Daily Times clipped for this purpose (among others. 



A government website CERT defines a data breach like this: “A data breach is when private and confidential information is released into an unsecured environment. This usually means that the information becomes publicly available. …Data breaches happen when information is compromised or stolen, released by accident, or accessed through bugs found in a computer system.


You may ask: Do Police have to comply with the Privacy Act?


The answer (from is “Yes”. “New Zealand Police are subject to the Privacy Act and they need to comply with it, just like any public or private agency.


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So given the numbers of reported (& unreported) data privacy breaches by government departments, including Police, how safe is an arms register?Here are some of the known reported instances of recent breaches:

  • July 2020 - The New Zealand Police and an unnamed research firm have been caught up in a data breach that may have leaked details of some people who have had contact with police.
  • July 2020 - the NZ Herald reported it had received confidential patient details of 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a spreadsheet with names, dates of birth, age and quarantine location.
  • December 2019 - Police gun buyback website shut down over privacy breach fears.
  • August 2019 - The Ministry for Culture and Heritage admitted more than 300 people had had their personal documents accessible on a ministry-commissioned public website.


Arms Register Premise

A comprehensive firearm register is part of the latest firearms law reform post Christchurch shootings. It will be implemented during the course of the next 3 years and populated with data over a 5 year period.


A firearms register would in theory allow Police and certain other government agencies to know where every legally owned firearm is stored and the contact details of their owners.


Reality: The security of the private data contained in a register is at risk from compromise, lack of information security management and unlawful access by unscrupulous public servants, contractors & hackers.


“Rather than taking responsibility for their incompetence, the Police Minister threatened to prosecute anyone found to have illegally accessed and distributed information from the police gun buy-back database.”


Any leakage of this sensitive data that is obtained by organised criminal gangs will allow them to target burglaries of firearm collections to order.


Rather than taking responsibility for their incompetence, the Police Minister threatened to prosecute anyone found to have illegally accessed and distributed information from the police gun buy-back database.


Never mind that police themselves had leaked gun owners' personal information, through a software system provided by German-based multi-national SAP.Government InfoSec (Information Security) advice:

  • Security in the public sector; All government-held information requires appropriate protection. Government agencies must consider the nature and value of the information they are managing and the measures needed to protect it.
  • Under the Privacy Act, agencies must follow a set of rules when handling personal information. What is an agency? Under the Privacy Act, an agency is any organisation or business.



Given the Government’s own requirements for all agencies to comply with the handling & protection of private information, there is little or no evidence in the public domain to assure the NZ public with any confidence, that NZ Police could safely (or accurately) manage such a sensitive resource as a firearm register.


Phil Cregeen



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