High-powered air rifles now require licence

  • Judith Collins

A new regulation requiring those who possess high-velocity air rifles to have a firearms licence came into effect today.

The change would make it more difficult for violent criminals to own and use the weapons, Police Minister Judith Collins said.

From 12am today these guns can only be possessed by a person at least 16 years old and the holder of a firearms licence, or a person under the supervision of a licence holder. Owners of air rifles affected by the change will have three months to obtain a firearms licence or dispose of the air rifle.

The change would apply to pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles which have been described as the weapon of choice for criminals. It would not apply to older-style spring-powered airguns or air guns powered by CO2 cartridges, BB guns or paintball guns.

"This change will mean that violent criminals can no longer walk in off the street and buy a class of airgun that can have similar power to a firearm," Ms Collins says.

"These weapons have proven popular with violent criminals who have, in the past, been able to own and use them without having to undergo the rigorous background checks required for a firearms licence."

PCP air rifles have been used in two fatal shootings in this country, including the murder of Police Sergeant Don Wilkinson.

Ms Collins said the change would ensure that responsible, law-abiding shooters still had access to PCP air rifles. "Many people use these guns for legitimate purposes, such as target shooting or hunting, and it's important that they can still do so."