A Christchurch rifle club president says tighter restrictions are needed around air rifles following the tragic shooting of a teenager at the weekend.
Shaun Townsley, 18, died on Saturday at Middlemore Hospital after being shot with an air gun he and four friends were playing with while drinking in South Auckland.
He was lining up targets when a friend fired an air gun pellet into his body.
Christchurch Rifle Club president Harvey Westland said no matter what regulations around firearms were put in place, someone would always try to circumvent them.
Mr Westland said air rifles were significantly stronger than the "feeble" slug guns of 10-15 years ago.
"The regulations haven't caught up with them, [but] they will have to and they had warning of that two to three years ago when that policeman got killed."
Undercover policeman Don Wilkinson, was killed with a .22 calibre air rifle in 2008.
Mr Westland said air gun owners should be licensed just like firearm owners were.
Figures released under the Official Information Act show of the 234,000-plus gun licence holders in New Zealand, 5516 are permitted to possess military style semi-automatics.
More than 33,000 Canterbury residents have a current firearms licence.
Mr Westland said New Zealand's gun licensing system was good, but "they could probably go a little bit deeper in the vetting of applicants."
"I don't think that would be impossible, [but] it would meet with an awful lot of resistance."
When it came to civilians owning MSSAs, Mr Westland asked "what earthly use have we got for them?"
"They're not there for people to go getting something for the pot, that's not their original intention at all."
A former High Court judge who was appointed to review gun control laws in 1996 following two shootings by police and the Aramoana massacre is again questioning the need for civilians to possess MSSAs.
"I do find difficulty in seeing any purpose in having multiple firing weapons of the military style - I can't see what purpose they serve to us in this country," Sir Thomas Thorp said.
The most recently available figures from Statistics New Zealand show over 26,000 firearms were imported in 2011, worth $13.5 million.
And although firearm owners are licenced, there is no way of knowing how many guns they possess because of a decision in 1982 to abandon a system of licensing each gun in favour of licensing gun owners.
Sir Thomas said while New Zealand's gun-related offending was lower than other developed countries, police routinely found blackmarket guns in criminal hands during drug raids.
Police annual reports show 599 firearm licenses were revoked in the 2011/12 financial year for gun control breaches - 79 under the Domestic Violence Act.
The number of illegal firearms in circulation is unknown. However Sir Thomas' 1997 Review of Firearms Control in New Zealand estimated 100,000 guns were held by unlicensed owners.
His report recommended that all firearms be registered - not just handguns and MSSAs - licences be renewed every three, instead of 10 years, and MSSAs be banned and made subject to a Government buy-back.
To date most of Sir Thomas' recommendations have been ignored by Parliament.