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Gun safety campaign pleasing but threat still real

Police pleased with results of gun safety campaign but warn threat still real

As a campaign to educate firearms owners to be more vigilant around security heads into its third week, Waikato Police say there has been some real positives but also some disappointments.

District Firearms Officer, Richard Plas, said since the launch of the 'Lock em or Lose em' campaign 10 firearms had been handed in to Police by people who had inherited them but didn't have an appropriate licence or no longer wanted them.

"Items have included rifles, shotguns, pistols, an inert hand grenade and ammunition.

"The people who have bought these items in have heard or read the media coverage at the heart of our campaign which is aimed at preventing unsecured firearms finding their way into criminal hands"

While that side of the ledger was going well, Mr Plas said other recent developments have Police seeing red.

"During recent searches of rural properties, Police found several A Category (A Cat) firearms together with high capacity magazines.

"In such situations firearms owners need to be aware that they are illegally converting their A Cat guns to E Cat Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSA's), and as a result can find themselves in hot water."

Mr Plas said under the Arms Act 1983, the legal definition of a Sporting Firearm (A Category) is as follows:
• sporting configuration, in relation to a semi-automatic firearm, means
being without any of the following features:
• (a) a folding or telescopic butt:
• (b) a magazine that is capable of holding, or that, by its appearance,
indicates that it is capable of holding,—
• (i) in the case of a magazine designed to hold .22 inch rimfire
cartridges, more than 15 cartridges; or
• (ii) in any other case, more than seven cartridges:
• (c) bayonet lugs:
• (d) a military pattern free-standing pistol grip:
• (e) a flash suppressor

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"Case Law, (Police V Muench 1997), confirmed that if a person has an A cat gun to which a high capacity magazine can be fitted, and a high capacity magazine is found in their ossession, then they are actually in possession of an MSSA, and as such can be charged for 'Illegal Possession'.

"Firearms owners are urged to avoid any confusion by ensuring their A Cat guns have none of the features listed above and that they have no such items in their possession which may fit their particular A category guns."


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