Guidelines for schools to develop or review a firearms policy

The Ministry does not support the unsupervised access of firearms in schools. However, we do acknowledge that there may be legitimate circumstances where firearms may be part of students’ education or sporting activities. This guidance helps schools to develop policies for these occasions.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • NZ Police 

Any firearms policy must abide by the Arms Act 1983, Arms Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

About the guidelines

Any firearms policy must follow the laws stated in the Arms Act 1983, Arms Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Boards are responsible for ensuring schools are safe environments for their staff and students, and all school staff must uphold the policies set by the boards.

Current legislation does allow firearms in schools, under strict conditions. These guidelines are designed to support schools to have the correct policy and processes in place. The guidelines are based on two principles.

Principle 1

All schools are required to provide a lawful and safe physical and emotional environment for students and staff. A safe and lawful environment for students and staff is of paramount importance and therefore must be the primary concern when applying the guidelines.

Principle 2

Parents/caregivers, students and the public will have a valid expectation that schools will develop a written policy and procedures to cover circumstances where students are involved in activities relating to firearms and that they will advise parents/caregivers accordingly. Schools must be mindful of these expectations.

Support for boards

The guidelines will support boards to:

  • understand their roles and responsibilities
  • ensure that they meet their obligations under the Arms Act 1983, Arms Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • clarify situations when firearms are permitted in schools and the processes that must be followed.

See the guidelines and associated quick guide.

We have developed these guidelines together with the New Zealand Schools’ Trustees Association, the Police, Defence Force and the Schools Health and Safety Sector Reference Group. The Reference Group includes AIMS, APIS, NKAI, NZPF, NZEI, NZSSPC, SEPA, SPANZ, TKKM, ERO, Ministry of Health and WorkSafe.

If you have questions or concerns, contact your school’s education adviser or email

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback