Being a gang member is not enough to stop someone getting a gun licence in New Zealand under current law.

The Herald today revealed how a patched Headhunter was able to legally buy $30,000 worth of high powered rifles between 2012 and 2015, before police revoked his firearms licence in January.

When police went to revoke the licence, the man had legally on-sold the weapons and they were unable to be retrieved.

The case has raised a number of issues with current firearms laws, which are under review by the The Law and Order Select Committee.


Proposals have included the need for increased monitoring of illegal firearms, which recommended changes similar to Australia's system where firearm prohibition orders are placed on known offenders.

Under New Zealand law, a person has to be over 16-years-old, complete a safety course and have two character reference tests to obtain a standard firearms licence.

Police would not comment on the case of the Headhunters, except to say it was "very rare for a patched gang member to be issued a firearms licence".

However, a Disctrict Court judgement from Masterton last month revealed how under current New Zealand law, being a member of an orgnaised criminal group does not necessarily exempt someone from a gun licence.

The case centred around Bandidos gang member Wade Victor Innes, from Wairarapa, appealing the revocation of his firearm licence.

Innes was first issued his licence in 1997 and it was renewed in 2007. Police confiscated his licence in July 2015 when they found Innes to no longer be a "fit and proper" person based on his membership to the Bandidos and because he broke licensing rules by failing to tell police when he changed address.

He appealed the decision, and his case was heard before Judge Tompkins in November.

When it came to gang associations, the judge drew on previous cases in judges ruled gang association was irrelevent to revoking a firearm licence.


"There is a short and now somewhat dated line of authority in favour of Mr Innes' association with the Bandidos gang being irrelevent," he said.

Instead, Judge Tompkins found that it was a culmination of factors that saw him lose the appeal.

He did not advice of his address changes, he was a member of the gang, he did not surrendor his physical licence or guns, and that other members of the gang were likely to be able to access his firearms.

"The cumulative effect of all the above is that Mr Innes is not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence."

Police Association acting president Craig Tickelpenny said that law enforcers were only able to work within the legislation available.

"We are very pleased that the Law and Order Committee is currently looking at who is and how these are being attained much closer."