NZers own one million guns - police
9.15am Tuesday November 7, 2006

New Zealanders own over one million guns as well as anti-tank projectors, grenade launchers, machineguns and military-style semi-automatics, police gun-ownership statistics show. But police say that people have nothing to fear because New Zealand has a good gun-safety record.

Police national manager of firearms licensing and vetting, Inspector Joe Green, told the Press many of the larger firearms would probably be collectors' pieces or have non-explosive shells. "Some of them are training rounds that are non-explosive. It may just be the casing and nothing inside," he said.

Mr Green said he did not know how many of the firearms were in the hands of criminals.

The figures have been released as Parliament's law and order select committee considers the Arms Amendment Bill, which proposes further tightening of gun controls. They show that New Zealanders own an estimated 1.1 million guns. There are 222,704 licensed firearm owners.

The figures show nine anti-tank projectors, 16 grenade launchers and thousands of machineguns and military-style semi-automatics are owned by members of the public.

According to police, firearms were involved in 621 violent offences last year, less than 1.3 per cent of all violent offending. In 2001, firearms were used in 1.34 per cent of violent offences.