A Christchurch arms dealer is trading high-calibre weapons more associated with freedom fighters in Libya than librarians in Linwood.

David Tipple of Gun City is selling for a bargain price of $1499 anti-aircraft cannons designed to shoot jet-fighters out of the sky.

Also available are German machineguns from the Battle of Stalingrad, MP5 9mm sub-machineguns starting from $14,999, as well as "very rare" 9mm UZI machineguns - down from $12,000 - Russian AK47s, .303 Vickers machineguns, and MAC 10 sub-machineguns.

But ordinary citizens can't just walk off the street and buy any of the arms, which are all legal to sell under New Zealand firearm laws.


Buyers must have require a specialist licence under Category C of the Arms Act, which means the weapons can be sold only to approved collectors, museums, or movie producers.

C category firearms must be stored in an "inoperable condition" and can never be used with live ammunition.

But blanks are allowed for movie making and re-enactments.

They must also be stored in steel-reinforced cases.

Mr Tipple, who owns Gun City on Cranford St, and also has stores in Auckland and Invercargill, said there were around 3000 "serious" Kiwi gun collectors with the C category licence, and more than 230,000 licensed firearms owners overall.

He said: "The rules are tight and the collectors take their responsibilities very seriously".

Mr Tipple, who was criticised in September for running a Father's Day promotion that offered a "mystery firearm" for $1, said most of the automatic weapons came from former Soviet Bloc countries.

He pointed to a German MG34 machinegun, selling for $6999.


"These have probably been found in a Russian storehouse, which is the most common place, captured after the fall of Stalingrad and sold to England and imported to New Zealand by a private importer.

"We can't import those for sale - it has to be a private individual who has imported them for their own collection.

"They're not cheap, but they are when you compare them to the States where an MG34 is probably worth $20,000.

"They are quite rare."

Mr Tipple believes that the Oerlikon 20mm anti-aircraft cannon probably once belonged to the New Zealand Army.

While the laws governing firearms are strict, he said that, surprisingly, they were very relaxed until as recently as 20 years ago.

"Up until 1992, the anti-aircraft cannons could be sold to anyone without a licence who wanted one.

"There was no ammunition for them, so what are you left with? You have to walk around with a forklift. In fact, I don't think anyone has been shot by one of them - ever."

After the 1990 Aramoana massacre near Dunedin, in which 13 people died, the Government vowed to crack down on "Rambo-style" weapons.

An amendment to New Zealand's firearms regulations in 1992 tightened gun control and created the military-style semi-automatic category of firearms. APNZ