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Media Led Into Incorrectly Crediting Firearm Registry

Media have once again been led into incorrect reporting on the firearm registry, this time repeating claims that the new firearms registry enabled identification of a firearm on-seller, even though the data had been collected separately by Police since 2021.

Yesterday’s story in the Herald said the Police investigation into Craig Holtom’s illegal firearm on-selling had a ‘major breakthrough’ with the creation of New Zealand’s firearm registry, after a ‘simple database search’.

The data was not collected because of, or for, the registry. The data was supplied to Police by commercial firearm retailers and dates to 2019.

The correct conclusion is therefore the exact opposite: a registry is not needed to track down someone buying from dealers to illegally sell on. The registry is a very expensive way to achieve what has already been happening.

COLFO (Council of Licensed Firearm Owners) spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack urges wariness.

“Healthy scepticism is required when it comes to claims about the firearm registry. There’s a lot of money and reputation invested, so a lot of incentive to embellish its performance.

“The way the Court case was presented to media means they missed that it really shows that Police didn’t need to spend $200m to create a registry to catch this offender.

“This cheap attempt to bolster a pointless registry swamps the sterling effort of Police in tracking down a wayward licensed firearm owner. It is disappointing to see someone once assessed as being fit and proper by Police sliding into supplying legally purchased firearms to gangs.

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“We thank the Firearms Safety Authority for acknowledging that the actions of this individual are not reflective of the vast majority of licensed firearm owners who legally use firearms to feed their families, protect our environment, and for sport," Devereux-Mack says.

This latest misrepresentation follows publishing of simplistic claims of public support for a registry.

In contrast, an unreported Clarity Insight poll run at the end of August for COLFO, revealed that two thirds of the public believe the registry will make no discernible difference to the level of firearm crime.

80% of the public believe New Zealand is less safe than 2019, and 83% have noticed an increase in gun crime since then. That was the year Labour banned some types of firearms, conducted a buyback, and announced a raft of controls on licensed firearm owners – moves it claimed would make people safer.

The full survey report from August is available here.

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