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Listen to experts, evidence on firearms registry failures


The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) is urging politicians to heed evidence from respected international experts on why a proposed firearms registry in New Zealand is doomed to fail.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee today heard from Professor Gary Mauser and Dr Samara McPhedran, respected academics in the fields of criminology and homicide from Canada and Australia respectively.

Both are experts on failed firearms registries in Canada and Australia, and said New Zealand must avoid making the same costly mistake by dumping plans for a registry here.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee urged lawmakers to make decisions based on the facts and evidence presented by the two experts.

“Professor Mauser and Dr McPhedran are independent experts who have no skin in the game, other than knowing and understanding first-hand why registries don’t work.

“Registries result in bureaucracy and cost blowouts, they inadvertently increase the number of illegal firearms in circulation and – crucially – they do not make the general public any safer.”

Professor Mauser, emeritus professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, said Canada’s experiment with the firearms register cost most than $3 billion. During its existence, no more than 60 percent of firearms owners registered their firearms.

Bureaucratic scandals with the administration of the Canada’s firearms register damaged public confidence. It was one of the main reasons for the Liberal Government losing the subsequent election and the register being ultimately scrapped in 2012.

“And, of course, there was the ultimate failure to bring down homicide or suicide rates.”

Dr McPhedran is the director of Griffith University’s Homicide Research Unit in Queensland.

Her chief concern with the Australian state registries was their inaccuracy.

“Some estimates suggest that up to 80 percent of entries in the firearms registers contain errors.”

Dr McPhedran also noted that Australia’s increase in firearms regulation and buy-back schemes resulted in no change to incidents of suicide and homicide involving firearms.

McKee said the evidence against a registry in New Zealand was clear.

“International experience shows that firearms registries don’t increase public safety and are so inaccurate as to be a costly and pointless exercise. The plan must be scrapped.”

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