Monday, October 18, 2010
Powerful pre-charged air rifles will be treated as firearms from Friday, requiring a firearms license for their possession. Police say they will take an educative approach on the law change initially and owners will have a three-month grace period (until January 2011) in which to obtain a firearms license or dispose of the weapon by selling it to a licensed person or surrendering it to the police. Airsoft (which fired plastic bullets) and paintball guns were excluded from the law change. Current legislation in NZ is that you must be 16 years and over and have a A-category firearms license to own an airsoft gun, or be 18 years and over. Napier police firearms officer Dennis Hurworth has called for owners of all categories of air guns to act responsibly or they placed themselves in danger from armed police."For Armed Offenders Squad members the law change will make no difference to call-outs," he said."All situations are treated the same until a weapon can be ascertained as to whether or not it posed a threat."On Friday a 25-year-old man, arrested in Napier after an Armed Offenders Squad mobilisation, was found to be in possession of an air gun of the same potency as that used to murder a police officer in Auckland in 2008. In 2007 a seven-year-old Napier girl narrowly escaped death when a .22 calibre bullet from an air rifle lodged in her brain after her father recklessly discharged the weapon.