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Firearm Registry will prove too costly, and won’t save lives

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners (COLFO) warns that firearm owners are likely to hold off entering information with the newly announced firearm registry, betting that within the next five years the system will break or prove of little practical use.


Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack says the Government has been unable to show how the system would save a single life, but there are many ways in which it can fail.

“This multi-million dollar computerised registry of firearms will be beaten the moment a criminal steals a gun and files off the serial number. The Police admitted this in response to an Official Information Act request from COLFO.



“It will be beaten each time a criminal imports a firearm along with drugs, makes a firearm at home, or uses one of the 100,000 firearms hidden following the Christchurch Mosque shooting.”


A major failure point is that the register can only help trace firearms after they have been used and discarded, or found during searches.


“Even if it works, it will not prevent anyone from being shot. The best it can do is play a small part in tracing the person who pulled the trigger.

“To claim it will make New Zealanders safer is to spread terribly misplaced hope.”

Studies show that a 10% error rate in the register would render it practically useless. The existing firearm license system is already heavily corrupted by details such as incorrectly entered addresses.


Just one security failure will endanger more people than the register could ever have kept safe, because it would provide criminal with details on the types of weapons and where they are stored. Within the past few years Police printouts of firearm licence owners were found in criminals’ homes, firearms and their owners were revealed to those using the Government’s online firearm buyback system, and multiple police staff have been convicted of criminal misuse of police databases.


“This register is likely to be an expensive embarrassment – of no practical use, a lot of trouble, and a lot of expense.”

Devereux-Mack says every law change since the Christchurch terror attack, which was the result of police failure to correctly administer the laws of the day, has been claimed to make New Zealanders safer, and yet there has been an almost unprecedented rise in gun crime.

“The Government makes this bold claim, and it is unthinkingly retold, without ever explaining how it will happen, and despite the reality showing exactly the opposite.”

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