The Government has given firearm owners whose licences have either expired or are soon to expire a reprieve in the form of an extension.
The move comes amid rising pressure on police over a backlog of licence applications amounting to almost 10,000.
Figures show more than half are for new licences at 5,498, with renewal applications sitting at around 4,246.
Police Minister Poto Williams said delays in processing have been in part due to Covid-19 and that an extension would only apply to licence holders who have already been through the police firearms vetting process.
The extension would be for 12 months.
"I want to reiterate - it is illegal to possess, procure or use a firearm without a valid licence. It is a privilege, not a right, to own or use a gun in this country," Williams said.
It comes after 1News raised the issue last week, speaking to a hunter and gun owner had been waiting more than ten months for a licence renewal.
Jeremy Smart is an electrician by day and has had a gun licence for over twenty years.
With his firearms licence expiring in July he was forced to relocate his firearms to a friend’s house for storage.
"I can’t do any shooting, hunting, or gather any kai at the moment which is a bit of an issue," Smart said.
"It's an inadequate performance by the police."
Today's government extension changes apply to licence holders with expiring firearms or dealer licences under the following circumstances:
The Police Minister says anyone who falls outside the timeframe is not covered by the extension.
"This is a necessary regulation that supports firearms licence holders caught out by Covid-19 Alert Level changes and unable to progress their renewals during this time. This reflects similar enactments which followed the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown," Williams said.
The Government is also working on further regulatory changes with regards to firearms safety which it expects to have in place over the next year.