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Sporting Shooters Association Of New Zealand (SSANZ) Calls Out Blatant Bias In Police Press Release

New Zealand Police are once again showing a political bias in the lead-up to the election. A press release from the 28th of September titled 10,000th person signs up to the Firearms Registry was celebrating the minority of firearms license holders who have registered their inventory of firearms with the Register.

Of deep concern to SSANZ was the inclusion of data taken from the Gun Control NZ (GCNZ)’s poll that was carried out by Horizon Research, whilst ignoring more up-to-date data. This information was contained in the ‘Notes For The Editor’ section of the release.

It stated that 71% of New Zealanders supported the registry whilst 14% opposed it, and 53% of New Zealanders felt safer with the registry and the banning of certain types of firearms. This survey was prepared in July but released on the 7th of August.

SSANZ is pointing out that a recent Council of Licensed Firearms Owners poll, conducted by Clarity Insight, has more recent data than that of GCNZ’s poll on the public perceptions of the registry and its effectiveness. The COLFO poll has findings that directly contradict that of GCNZ’s findings. The findings were that 53% of New Zealanders believe that the Register was unlikely to reduce crimes using firearms, with 83% believing that gun crime has increased since 2019. 80% also believe that New Zealand is less safe now than it was in 2019.

The conclusions of one survey are not congruent with the conclusions drawn by the other, which is the source of the concerns SSANZ has. New Zealand Police have blatantly chosen older data that suits their objectives whilst ignoring more up-to-date data with findings that undermine their viewpoints. As stated in our previous release, we are incredibly concerned that New Zealand Police are overstepping their distinct constitutional boundaries of political neutrality during this election period and trying to market policy to the public and political parties, as a change in Government looks likely.

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For Police to ignore recent data in preference for older data on the same topic shows a blatant bias. If the GCNZ poll was released after that of COLFO then SSANZ would concede that the preference for the most up-to-date data is a valid one. This is not the case, and SSANZ believe that the purpose of this data being subtly included in the editor notes of the press release was so that it could be included in any articles regarding the register having over 10,000 people in its system as extra material for journalists.

SSANZ encourages Police to use the most up-to-date data available to inform policy and press releases. SSANZ also notes that Police acknowledge the importance of neutrality during the election period in their document titled Elections and political matters-a guide for Police employees on page 7. This manual notes that ‘particular care’ is required when writing press releases during the pre-election period, to maintain the image of political neutrality. We believe that ‘particular care’ was absent with this release, and that the right thing to do would have been to not include any data at all, rather than ignore COLFO’s findings in favour of GCNZ’s older findings, which shows a blatant bias.

Whilst SSANZ expects and accepts this conduct from various interest and lobby groups on both sides of the firearms debate in the leadup to the election, to have New Zealand Police engage in this behaviour is concerning, and not in line with their expectations or that of New Zealanders. SSANZ would welcome a press release with an explanation from New Zealand Police as to why they chose to ‘cherry pick’ the data they did for the release.

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