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Data undermining Firearm Registry was not disclosed to Parliament – COLFO

The Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) has today called for the resignation of the Police Commissioner after evidence emerged that suggests data proving the impracticality of the Firearms Registry was never shown to Parliament.

COLFO has also called for a Ministerial Inquiry into what previous Labour Prime Ministers and Police Ministers knew about the damning data discovered in Police databanks by Official Information Act requests from journalist Victoria O’Brien.

The data includes the facts that only 1.9% of all firearms seized by Police since 2020 were legally imported (that is, were recorded on importation permits), and 95.5% of those with serial numbers were never recorded on import permits.

This means that 98% of firearms seized from criminals by Police in the past three years would never appear on the Firearms Registry because they were either imported illegally, or constructed locally without serial numbers.

The proportion of firearms seized by police without a serial number has also increased since the registry was announced, to over 65% by the end of November 2023 – which could signal a concerted effort from criminals to avoid the registry.

The existence of this data shows Police have long known that a Firearms Registry would be of limited use, and that many registered firearms would have already been recorded on Police import permits. All legally imported firearms are listed on a Police importation permit by serial number. Police did not provide this information to the Government or Parliament during deliberations.

COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack says the evidence is the “smoking gun” that shows the Police, and probably Cabinet Ministers, knew a Firearms Registry was never the solution to firearm crime they claimed it to be.

“This is clear-cut evidence that up to 98% of firearms used by criminals will never appear on a Register.

“The Registry has been a massive deception of the public, to fool them into feeling safer when they are not, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

“Previous Ministers claimed a Registry would make New Zealanders safer. If they knew this data at the time, then they are guilty of deception. They must tell the public what they knew.”

Devereux-Mack says the deception by authorities appears to have been continued by not releasing data that indicated the Registry was not working in practice.

The OIA information shows that of all firearms seized with serial numbers since 2020, only 6.9% were on the Arms Information System (now the Registry). Of these, 56.7% didn’t match the record in the registry, 15.8% were a likely, but not definite, match.

“The Police Commissioner must be called before Parliament to explain the withholding of this information.

“A Ministerial inquiry must search the records of Labour’s previous Police Ministers to find whether they knew this critical information but proceeded anyway,” Devereux-Mack says.

 

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