Friday, 10 February 2023, 10:08 am
Following last week’s revelation that firearm owners would be charged for burglary callouts under new Police fees, the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) has now revealed that the proposed extraordinary fee increases are due to Police wanting to charge twice for vetting it only does once.
The new process proposed by Police treats every renewal of licenses and license endorsements as a first-time application, requiring the same ‘fit and proper’ vetting check for each renewal of every license class. The proposals seek cost-recovery for a full vetting process on every individual license or endorsement renewal, even though Police regularly bundle these together.
Spokesperson for the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO), Hugh Devereux-Mack, says in practice, when a license and endorsement come up for renewal at the same time, Police will do two sets of paperwork but just one set of referee interviews.
“The massive increase in the proposed fees is due to Police double-dipping. While in practice Police bundle vetting processes together, firearms owners will be charged twice over.
“It’s another example of the Police policy team not understanding how things work on the ground.”
If a renewal and endorsement application do not align, Police will undertake the vetting checks again with the license holder’s two referees – even if the person was already vetted a month previous for a different license type, which may have the same requirements. “The previous vetting could be used as proof of the license holder’s fit and proper status, saving Police time and firearm license holder’s money, without compromising public safety.”
A licensed firearm owner who is renewing their standard license must undergo the two-referee ‘fit and proper’ vetting process. If that same license holder adds a ‘B’ endorsement (pistol) or ‘C’ endorsement (collectors) a month later, Police will undertake another ‘fit and proper’ check of that person a second time, often with the same referees.
“This creates a massive backlog of unnecessary work for the local Police firearms officers. Why require the work to be done twice, or even the filling out of two similar forms at the same time, when once would be perfectly suitable?
“The cost of this duplication is very high, so Police want firearm owners to pay for it. Firearm license holders should not have to pay for this bureaucratic inefficiency.”
“The Police have created unnecessary work for themselves and need to employ more staff to cover that administrative process. That creates huge cost, and Police are proposing this expense should sit on firearms license holders,” says Devereux-Mack.
“Police want the license holders, and the referees, to take time off work to sit at a Police station up to three times in the same month and take the same quiz. Police then want firearm license holders to pay for that needless activity.”
Devereux-Mack says Police should get its own house in order before it starts adding costs on law-abiding Kiwis to cover the inadequacy of its firearm licensing system.
“Licensed firearm owners know the system is inadequate because we are dealing with 6 month wait times and local firearm officers who are run off their feet.
“The public knows the Police are targeting the wrong people, because they continue to see escalated levels of gang crime in their communities.
“New Zealanders now know the buyback didn’t make them safer, intense regulation of community clubs and ranges didn’t make them safer, and increased license fees and the firearms register won’t make them safer either.
“Criminals don’t abide by the lawful system, they won’t pay the fees, and you can bet they’re not going to register the guns that came in on the last drug shipment.”
“At the heart of it, Police are going after good people, farmers, sport enthusiasts, conservationists, and families trying to put food on their table for less cost.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash should stop this damaging cycle, and direct Police to take its focus off law-abiding people and deal with the real crimes affecting Kiwis.
“Minister Nash has the opportunity to make New Zealanders safer by focusing on real crime in the community, not regulating and invoicing long-trusted citizens. We urge him to take it.”
Members of the public have until 16 February 2023 to submit on the proposed fees. They can make a submission by going to https://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/programmes-and-initiatives/consultation-arms-regulations-review-fees-2022