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Gangs Could Avoid Firearms Register With One Simple Hack

A firearm register will not help track or remove firearms from gangs because it relies on serial numbers that Police now admit are almost always removed on the firearms seized.

In a recent Official Information Act response given to the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO), Police acknowledged that “source tracing is very difficult where seizures of firearms from gangs almost invariably have serial numbers removed.”

COLFO Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said today that gangs and other criminals file or grind off serial numbers to make them almost impossible to track if they’re seized.

“Serial number removal renders the proposed register useless. It would merely be a list of legally owned firearms, not a list of the tens of thousands of illegally owned firearms,” he says.

“Although registered firearms could be reported stolen, it is next to impossible for police to match this information with seized firearms.”

“Criminals are already using the ultimate untraceable firearms – 3-D printed firearms – and importing illegal firearms with overseas drug shipments[1], which a register will never know about” says Devereux-Mack.

Devereux-Mack says a firearm register does not address the primary issue, which is the violence and harm gangs are inflicting with firearms.

“Even if we could track the origin, that’s cold comfort to the victim. We need to make sure the shooting does not happen in the first place.”

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Devereux-Mack says a register of restricted firearms in New Zealand such as handguns has been implemented for decades, yet handguns are still being used by criminals to cause harm.

“The current register of handguns did nothing to stop gang members using them in a shootout two weeks ago[2]” he says.

“It is obvious from the register already in place that it will not stop criminals from obtaining and using firearms.”

He also says that the register will add complication to an already overloaded licensing system which is currently experiencing a 12-month wait.

“Police should stop loading their plate with more paperwork and spend that money and time on enforcement to punish the gangs causing harm in the community.”

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