The second tranche of new gun laws has passed its final hurdle in Parliament today.
The gun law reform was prompted by the Christchurch terrorist attack in which 51 people died in shootings at two mosques on March 15, 2019.
The Arms Legislation Bill means a new firearms registry will be established, firearms licences will be reduced from 10 to five years and there have been changes to some penalties "to better reflect the seriousness of the offending".
Possessing a gun without a licence now has a penalty of up to one year in prison or a $15,000 fine and selling a gun to an unlicensed person could see a two year jail sentence or a $20,000 fine.
Short (pistol-length) semi-automatic rifles have also been banned and pest control endorsements have a shorter duration.
Anyone who sells ammunition will need to have a firearms licence within six months and there would be new requirements for shooting clubs and ranges after two years.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said it was a "historic milestone for community safety".
"The new law is designed to stop firearms falling into the wrong hands. It spells out for the first time that owning a firearm is a privilege, limited to responsible licensed owners."
He said the registry would track how many firearms are in legal circulation, who holds them, who is selling them and who is buying them.
Once it is established firearm holders would have just over five years to register all guns.
"Our first set of firearms changes banned assault rifles and military style semi-automatics," Mr Nash said. "We need to ensure that every part of our risk-management system, from licensing processes, to security requirements and the firearms themselves, is robust."
The Police Association welcomed the move, calling some of the reforms "at least 30 years overdue".
"The establishment of a firearms registry, long advocated by the association, will begin to address glaring inadequacies in our gun laws.
"That limited knowledge of the number, the owners, the security of storage and the onselling processes have long been a deep flaw in our firearms safety processes," he said.
"What we do know is registries of all types promote behavioural change amongst owners because they know they are going to be held to account for the item they register."
National said the rules would not flow on to address criminal activity.
"The evidence out of Australia and the experience of registries attempted in other countries shows the registry the Government is proposing will not deliver the stated objective of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
"The reforms is also a missed opportunity to permit legitimate sport shooting disciplines and to put in place fit for purpose pest control exemptions."
ACT leader David Seymour said the Arms Legislation Bill continued to "blame law-abiding firearms owners for the actions of a single foreigner and the mistakes of police".
"A firearms register will be costly and inaccurate. Overseas experience suggests the cost will blow out."