The police have received more than 400 calls to a new phone line about changes to gun rules since the Government yesterday tightened controls on semi-automatic weapons.

"Since Police set up the 0800 number dedicated to the changes to firearms
yesterday afternoon, 474 calls were received by 11am," said Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny.

"The highest number of calls received in one hour is 127.

"More than a thousand people have notified Police using the online form that they wish to hand in their firearm.

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This form can be used for firearms which are affected by the changes announced yesterday, or any other firearm, and is available on the Police website.

"Unfortunately, some people have decided it is a good use of their time to
misuse the form and submit 'fake' notifications to hand in weapons. While
these individuals may be short of productive work to do, police are not.

"In the current environment this is unacceptable. These vexatious forms are a
huge waste of police time and resources which could be put to better use."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday, in light of the Christchurch massacre, the Government would soon introduce legislation to ban military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs) and assault rifles.

In the meantime, the Government amended regulations under the Arms Act, with effect from 3pm yesterday, to reclassify a range of semi-automatic weapons under the act.

These are:
• A semi-automatic firearm that is capable of being used in combination with a detachable magazine (other than one designed to hold 0.22-inch or less rimfire cartridges) that is capable of holding more than 5 cartridges; and

• A semi-automatic firearm that is a shotgun and is capable of being used in combination with a detachable magazine that is capable of holding more than 5 cartridges.

"This interim measure will ensure that all of the weapons being banned under amendments to the Arms Act are now categorised as weapons requiring an E endorsement on a firearms licence," Ardern said.

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"The effect of this is that it will prevent the sale of MSSAs and assault rifles to people with A category gun licences. The Order in Council [the amended regulation] is a transitional measure until the wider ban takes effect.

"We are introducing transitionary measures for gun owners to hand in their guns to police to hold until details of a buy-back are announced. Likewise, the police continue to accept guns for destruction."

An E endorsement is more difficult to obtain that an A category gun licence.

The police said today the gun amnesty will continue until further notice.

They urged people now in unlawful possession of a firearm because it has been re-classified as an MSSA, to see the police website and notify police to arrange to hand over the firearm. The transitional period allowed for people to do so without facing any penalties.

The details of the buy-back, which Ardern had stated would occur, were being worked out, the police said. People should log their information on the police website to ensure they could take part.

• 0800 311 311 - the police phone number for inquiries about changes to gun rules