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Public Opinion: Firearm Crime Up And Registry Won’t Reduce It

A new survey has revealed that the public are noticing more firearm crime, but believe the firearm registry won’t reduce it, gravely weakening claims that the public support a registry.


A Clarity Insight poll run at the end of August for COLFO (Council of Licensed Firearm Owners), reveals that two thirds of the public believe the registry will make no discernible difference to the level of firearm crime.


80% of the public believe New Zealand is less safe than 2019, and 83% have noticed an increase in gun crime since then. That was the year Labour banned some types of firearms, conducted a buyback, and announced a raft of controls on licensed firearm owners – moves it claimed would make people safer.


Recently the Government and others have claimed public support for a registry, but COLFO says the support is weak and illusory. When New Zealanders were asked whether they thought a registry would work, the answer was clear: no.


This counters the simple picture suggested by a Horizon survey commissioned by Gun Control NZ, which asked people if they supported or opposed a registry, and a 1News poll that asked people if they would ‘keep or abolish’ the registry.


When asked if they feel more or less safe, the majority say they feel less safe – which is consistent with other surveys. This contrasts with the Horizon poll which found a slim majority felt safer following the firearm law changes. Whether this is accurate or not, people feel less safe overall.


The Clarity Insight poll underscored the public attitude toward a registry when it asked them to compare it with alternative solutions. The registry ranked 5th, alongside ‘more police’ and ‘improved vetting of licensed firearm owners’. Twice as many people preferred to have more search and seizures of firearms from gangs, and stronger penalties for illegal use of firearms.

COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said the survey was a corrective to the false impression of public support for a registry.


“It’s not support – it’s desperation. It is an optical illusion caused by absence of other options. It is the result of public desire for something to be done to combat firearm crime.”

He said the previous surveys had enticed policymakers into supporting the registry on the basis of public support, despite evidence and overseas experience that showed registries failed to work.


“Registries fail in the real world, so activists had to convince politicians by making simplistic claims of public support.


“Now that the public sentiment is correctly understood, we remind policy-makers that the real evidence is that the registry will cost an immense amount of money and will not decrease the use of firearms to commit crimes.


“This must be the last time such hyped and mistargeted firearm policies are tried. When the registry fails, it will prove that more laws for licensed firearm owners is not the solution to gun crime,” Devereux-Mack said.

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