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A brief explainer on the distinction between Category A & Category E firearms licenses, since this is a topic of some confusion.

"Category A" is your bog standard arms license. It permits ownership of bolt, lever and similar action rifles and shotguns, and some semi-autos. ...
"Category E" is a license endorsement over and above Cat A for "Military-Style Semi-Automatic" rifles (MSSAs). This is where it gets complicated.

What defines "Military-Syle" is not actual functionality, nor is it actual use by militaries -- it is literally a matter of style.
For example: I own a semi-auto rifle that was issued to Soviet bloc militaries as a service rifle. But it is not "military-style" for essentially cosmetic reasons. Similar your AR pattern rifles, literally in use by militaries since 1960s but not categorically "military style".
The distinction is a nonsense because the classification turns only partly on functionality. An A-Cat SA rifle may hold no more than 7 rounds; and must not have a free-standing pistol grip; and a few other basically cosmetic qualifications like bayonet mounts. ...
But it is mostly a nonsense because the Police lost a court action on the definition of what is a "free standing pistol grip", allowing a so-called "thumbhole grip" to be exempt from the definition of "free standing pistol grip". See pictures.
So far so good, right, But the loss of this court action (Lincoln v Police) meant that the definition of "thumbhole" got stretched to the point where any conneection between the buttstock and the pistol grip now qualifies. So one of the below is a "thumbhole stock" and one is not
(The same rifle in all four pics). But these are cosmetic issues only. The real functionality issue is that A-cat SAs may hold no more than 7 rounds; but the thumbhole rule means rifles routinely made to take high-capacity mags are A-Cat compliant, IF fitted with a 7-round mag.
So with an A-Cat license you can go and buy a rifle with a "thumbhole" stock (loosely defined) and it's all legal up until the moment you buy an 8 (or 20, or 30) round magazine in it. So they are essentially convertible to a MSSA, if you can obtain such a mag.
And that means nearly all AR-pattern rifles, the rifles famous for mass shootings in NZ, are A-Category compliant by default, because the Police lost a court case on cosmetic grounds, and government has not legislated to correct the technical distinction. And here the fuck we are
The reason it matters is that the Category E endorsement is a vastly higher level of restriction than the bog standard Cat A license that nearly all gun owners have. E Cat needs more vetting, much better storage, and opther restrictions on use and purchase. It's a high bar.
E Cat endorsed owners tend to be competitive shooters, pest controllers, &c. Serious people, generally v experienced & trustworthy. But the bar doesn't apply to many people, just because you can get 90% of the functionality just by taking advantage of the thumbhole stock loophole
(Famous for mass shootings in the US, I mean. But also apparently used by the NZ shooter)
So basically, at a minimum, the nonsense legalistic definition of "Military Style" needs to be reformed from cosmetic orientation to something closer to its ordinary-language meaning: rifles of the type currently used by militaries, or of similar functionality. That's a minimum.
Such a change will not affect most hunters, farmers &c very much, as it will not affect bolt, lever, or pump action rifles. But it will put an end to places like Gun City selling A Cat ARs with a nod and a wink to anyone with the nous and inclination to buy a high-cap magazine.
And here's an article on Lincoln v Police for background:…
And the Police info page:…
And the judgement:…
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