Author Topic: The Law and Clubs  (Read 1659 times)

Offline Novagun

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The Law and Clubs
« on: July 07, 2013, 10:03:41 AM »
The shooting of all firearms in New Zealand by anyone is guided in the main by the Arms Act 1983 and its subsequent amendments.  The Crimes Act 1961 also contains provisions that will be invoked when serious misdemeaners with guns occur. The most serious would be murder but the act also details lesser degrees of assault and  misbehaviour that would include incidents involving firearms. There is also section 145 of the Crimes Act which has the heading of Criminal Nuisance. It has been used where organisers or officials of sporting events have failed in their duties and serious harm has resulted. More about that later.

Note that although an airgun is not a firearm it is treated as one for offences against the Arms Act.

The Arms Act is administered by the New Zealand Police and sets out obligations for the shooting community from arms dealers to back yard airgun plinkers.

There are twenty one sections under the heading of offences that define activities with guns that can incur severe penalties. Don't be alarmed: if the seven safety rules in the Arms Code are followed the penal provisions of the Arms Act and the Crimes Act will not be a consideration.

There is one section in the Arms Act that deserves special mention. That is Section 48 and it describes where and in what circumstances firearms can not be used. It is particularly relevant to airguns because of their low power and relatively quiet operation and their use in suburban gardens or buildings.

The relevant section is reproduced but it should be remembered that its final interpretation rests with lawyers and judges.

Arms Act 1983 Section 48.
Discharging firearm, airgun, pistol, or restricted weapon in or near dwellinghouse or public place.

    Every person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to a fine not exceeding $3,000 or to both who, without reasonable cause, discharges a firearm, airgun, pistol, or restricted weapon in or near—

        (a) a dwellinghouse; or

        (b) a public place,—

    so as to endanger property or to endanger, annoy, or frighten any person.

 Consider that some people are annoyed or frightened very easily. This raises the question of how to go about back yard shooting in suburbia. Some settings provide seclusion and security so that other people are unaware of shooting. Some back yards are secure but not secluded and circumstances may change with time of day. It is a matter of judgement how each situation should be handled. Maybe an approach to neighbours will suffice but it may not. Proceed with consideration and caution.

Such problems do not arise when shooting at a properly constructed venue used by a rifle club, either an outdoor range or an indoor small bore range.

There are some lesser known laws that should be noted.

The little known provision in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 concerning carriage of firearms in vehicles. Airguns are specificly  included.

7.21 Loaded firearms

    (1) A driver must not operate a motor vehicle on or in which is carried any firearm, airgun, or restricted weapon (as defined in section 2 of the Arms Act 1983) that is loaded with a bullet, cartridge, missile, or projectile, whether in its breech, barrel, chamber, or magazine.

    (2) Subclause (1) does not apply in relation to the carriage of firearms—

        (a) for Police purposes; or

        (b) for the purposes of the New Zealand Defence Force; or

        (c) under the authority of a permit issued by a constable who is of or above the level of position of inspector.

Security provisions of the firearms regulations 1993. Section 19

Although this regulation does not specificly include airguns the guide line is there. It does include the especially dangerous airgun known as a PCP. A PCP is specified in the definition of a firearm as set out in the Arms Act 1982.

Firearms Regulations 1993 Section 19

Conditions relating to security precautions

    (1) Every firearms licence shall be subject to the following conditions:

        (a) the holder shall not put a firearm in such a place that a young child has ready access to it:

        (b) the holder, where he or she has both a firearm and ammunition for it in his or her possession, either—

            (i) shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the ammunition is not stored in such a way that a person who obtains access to the firearm also obtains access to the ammunition; or

            (ii) shall ensure that, where the ammunition is stored with the firearm, the firearm is not capable of being discharged:

        (c) the holder shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any firearm in the holder’s possession is secured against theft:

        (d) the holder shall, where he or she has possession of a firearm that is—

            (i) a flare pistol; or

            (ii) a humane killer; or

            (iii) a stock marking pistol,—

        keep it in a locked container, except where it is under the holder’s immediate and personal supervision.

    (2) On and after 1 July 1993 the reasonable steps required by subclause (1)(c) shall include—

        (a) keeping on the holder’s premises—

            (i) a lockable cabinet, container, or receptacle of stout construction in which firearms may be stored; or

            (ii) a lockable steel and concrete strongroom in which firearms may be stored; or

            (iii) a display cabinet or rack in which firearms may be immobilised and locked so that none of them may be fired; and

        (b) keeping locked or immobilised and locked in the cabinet, container, receptacle, strongroom, display cabinet, or rack required by paragraph (a) every firearm which is on the holder’s premises and which is not under immediate and personal supervision of the holder or some other holder of a firearms licence; and

        (c) ensuring that no firearm in the holder’s possession is left in a vehicle that is unattended.

Of particular interest is subsection (c) above that mentions leaving a firearm in an unattended vehicle.


For the concern of hunters the Wildlife Act (1953) protects most native species. However pukeko and some duck species can be hunted at certain times of the year.

The maximum penalty for killing protected wildlife is a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Make sure you are aware of what species are protected to avoid mistakenly shooting these animals.  However most introduced birds and animals are not protected.

It should be mentioned that a permit is required to hunt small game on Department of Conservation land.

New Zealand Legislation.  Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act 1953 is here reproduced and it comes with a warning.      Warning: Some amendments have not yet been incorporated.  Note the common rabbit is not mentioned.

Schedule 5
Wildlife not protected

s 7(3)
    Cat (Felis)
    Cattle (Bos)
    Dog (Canis)
    Ferret (family Mustelidae)
    Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
    Horse (Equus)
    Mouse (family Muridae)
    Polecat (family Mustelidae)
    Possum (family Phalangeridae)
    Rat (family Muridae)
    Sheep (Ovis)
    Stoat (family Mustelidae)
    Wallaby (family Macropodidae)
    Weasel (family Mustelidae)
    Blackbird (Turdus merula)
    Bulbul: Red-vented bulbul (Pycononotus cafer)
        Cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
    Cape Barren goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae)
    Chicken (junglefowl)—
        any bird of the genus Gallus
        all species of the genus Streptopelia
        Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
        Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
        Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
        Lesser redpoll (Carduelis cabaret)
        any bird of the genus Anser
        Canada goose (Branta canadensis)
    Guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
        Black-backed gull (Larus dominicanus)
        any bird of the genus Dacelo
    Magpie (Australian)—
        Black backed magpie (Gymnorhina tibecen)
        White backed magpie (Gymnorhina leuconota)
    Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)
    Mynah (Acridotheres tristis)
        Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus)
        Crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans)
        Eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius)
        Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)
        Rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus)
        Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
        White (or sulphur-crested) cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
    Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
        Rock pigeon (Columba livia)
    Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
    Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
    Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)
        Hedge sparrow (Prunella modularis)
        House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
    Spur-winged plover (Vanellus miles)
    Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
        any bird of the genus Meleagris
    Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
    Green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea)
    Southern bell frog (Litoria raniformis)
    Whistling frog (Litoria ewingii)
        Rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata)
    Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans)


There are few air rifles clubs in New Zealand. Some are purely air rifle shooting and some are combined with small bore shooting with air rifles shooting along side .22 long rifle. Although air rifles are shot at paper targets for scoring there is a strong interest in field Target shooting with several organised competions throughout the year.

Field target shooting involves a set course on which are placed life sized steel silhouettes of small animals. On shooting a small target area on the animal it falls over thereby scoring one point. These events are set up in rural settings to add the challenge of terrain and varying weather conditions.

The events are run under the auspicies but not by the New Zealand Air rifle Field Target Association. This is the most prominent air rifle shooting competition but There are other club events involving conventional target shooting or shooting at very small animals shaped silhouettes that provide variety.

Shooting under way at the Ngaio Rifle Club outdoor Field Target range.  Car parking beyond.

Whenever a group of air rifle shooters gather together to shoot the venue effectively becomes a range. There must be a range officer appointed who is responsible for safe conduct on the range and there may be more than one.
At the very least every shooter should be briefed as to the Range Orders that apply for the day. A sample of range orders is reproduced.

Take note that Section 145 of the Crimes Act applies to those people who are responsible for the conduct of the shooting session. That applies to range officers and course/range marshals.

Crimes Act 1961 Section 145  Criminal nuisance

    (1) Every one commits criminal nuisance who does any unlawful act or omits to discharge any legal duty, such act or omission being one which he knew would endanger the lives, safety, or health of the public, or the life, safety, or health of any individual.

    (2) Every one who commits criminal nuisance is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year.

This provision has been used to prosecute event officials who have failed in their duty to ensure safety. The section would be used where a serious but preventable accident occurred at a range. Such accident occurring where an official failed to act to curtail dangerous activity. 
A sample:  Air Rifle Range Standing Orders
These orders must be read out/acknowledged by all shooters before the start of any shooting.
1) The provisions of the NZ Arms Act 1983 and the New Zealand Police Arms Code shall apply.
2) A non shooting Course Marshal will be appointed when two or more shooters are present.
3) Course Marshals are to be identified by a brightly coloured vest.
4) A first aid station is to be on the course under the control of the Marshal.
5) No rifle is to be loaded until the Course Marshall gives permission to commence firing.
6) Shooting can only commence when the Course Marshal gives the command to start by voice or one  blast on a whistle.
7) All shooting is to stop at the command of the Course Marshall by voice or two blasts on a   whistle.
8) No rifle shall be loaded unless the shooter is on the range mound or on the practice range mound and the rifle is pointed down range towards the targets.
9) Whenever the range is closed the Course Marshal shall instruct all shooters on the mound to clear their weapons whereupon all shooters shall aim their rifles at the ground in front of their position and operate the trigger.
10) The Course Marshal have full and undisputed authority over all activities in the range area and may order any shooter from the range.
11) All shooters are to ensure and encourage safe practice and inform the Course Marshal Officer of anything that appears unsafe.
12) All Rifles are to be treated as if loaded at all times and be pointed in a safe direction.
13) All rifles must be in a safe firing condition to the satisfaction of the Course Marshal.
14) No person is to advance in front of the marked areas or firing line.
15) Before a shooter leaves the firing point, his/her shooting partner must check that the rifle is unloaded and is in a safe condition.
16) In an emergency any person may close the range by way of a shout to cease fire.
17) No shooting is to take place when the range is closed.
18)Wearing ear muffs , plugs safety glasses are the responsibility of each person on the ange.
19) All shooters must be registered with the Rifle Club or the Range Officer.

« Last Edit: June 06, 2017, 04:34:29 AM by Novagun »