A local deerstalker is calling for tighter legislation around air rifles following the death of a teenager at the weekend.
Shaun Townsley died on Saturday after being shot with an airgun he and four friends were playing with while drinking in South Auckland.
He was lining up targets for his friends to shoot off a fence when one of them fired an airgun pellet into his body.
The 18-year-old was rushed to Middlemore Hospital, where he died shortly after arrival.
Local hunter and secretary of the NZ Deerstalkers Association Bay of Plenty branch, Dave Bragg, said air rifles were a lot more powerful than they used to be and needed to be brought under control.
"I think they should be under the same controls as high powered rifles - that means you have to have a gun licence to purchase one.
"To put them in the hands of a young and inexperienced person, purely because of their age is just not good enough."
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 (MSSAs).
There are more than 24,000 firearm licence holders in the Bay of Plenty.
Mr Bragg said New Zealand's firearm laws were sufficient and did not need changing.
"I had a gun licence in the era when you registered your weapons and it was cumbersome.
"Registering the individual and vetting the individual I think is a much more sensible way to go."
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.
American Vice-President Joe Biden is due to release recommendations from his gun violence task force this week in response to calls for tighter gun control laws - specifically around the ownership of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
It follows the second-deadliest school shooting in US history in December in which 20 children and six staff were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The gunman used two pistols and a Bushmaster XM15 assault rifle - a gun available to Kiwi arms enthusiasts with E category licences.
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 licensed, there is no way of knowing how Air rifle death brings call for restrictions
many guns they possess because of a decision in 1982 to abandon a system of licensing each gun in favour of licensing gun owners.
In 1996, Police National Headquarters estimated there were 1.2 million firearms nationwide.
Sir Thomas said while New Zealand's gun-related offending was lower than other developed countries, police routinely found black market guns in criminal hands during drug raids.
Police annual reports show 599 firearm licences 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.
Should be a limit on the number of guns one person can own?
24,079 firearm licence holders in Bay of Plenty (as of February 2012)
413 firearm licence tests held at Tauranga and 39 at Te Puke police stations in 2011
Source: NZ Police stats as of June 2012