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COLFO Says Firearm Owners Likely To Wait 5 Years To Register

The Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) says licensed firearm owners are likely to wait the full five years before registering their firearms, believing the system will be closed or limited as they have been in other countries.

COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack says licensed firearm owners are free to make their own minds up about when to register their firearms but should be mindful of the ‘activation rules’ that can require an owner to register their firearms sooner.

“Licensed firearms owners have the full five years to register their firearms, and many are likely to put it off as long as possible.

“Some will be holding out for a new Government to repeal the registry; some will wait for the register to be revealed as ineffective, and others will hold off out of spite.

“The five years is helpful, because for antique collectors, museums, and theatrical armourers, who all hold many firearms, registration will be an arduous process.

“However, COLFO advises licensed owners to be mindful that certain actions will require them to register their firearms sooner than they might have liked," says Devereux-Mack.

Licensed firearm owners will have 30 days to register all their firearms, if they:

· Apply for a license or endorsement

· Notify a change in license holder information

· Sell or supply an arms item

· Import or export an arms item

· Manufacture an arms item

· Modify a prohibited firearm to a non-prohibited firearm

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· Notify loss or theft of an arms item

· Destroy an arms item

· From 24 June 2025: Purchase ammunition

Devereux-Mack says the conditions will likely cause some unintended consequences as people avoid registering.

“License holders may refrain from updating their addresses or contact details to avoid triggering the 30-day requirement to register, which will leave Police with even less accurate information than they had before the registry.

“People may not even report a stolen firearm to avoid the requirement to register others, which also leaves Police further in the dark about firearms possessed by criminals.

“From June 2025, firearm owners will be required to register their firearms if they purchase ammunition. To avoid this, many will bulk-buy ammo over the next two years while they can avoid registration.”

Devereux-Mack says Police must state which measurements they will use to indicate success of the register, so its effectiveness can be judged after the first few years of implementation, not just after ten years.

“The Government and Police have made bold claims for the register, saying it will make New Zealanders safer.

“Therefore it is reasonable that the measures for success would not be about outputs like the numbers of records, but impacts such as reduced firearm burglaries and firearm-related violence such as threatening and discharging, lower homicide and suicide rates, fewer seizures of illegally held firearms, and depowered gangs.

“Police must notify which combination of crime statistics it intends to use to measure success of the registry, so the public and news media can judge its efficacy and hold Police and Government to account.

“We must also expect of such critical information; accuracy of records at 100%, online uptime of 100%, and 0% leakage of data, or misuse of data.”

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