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Record Low Trust In Police Explains Small Firearm Registry Turnout

COLFO’s latest Trust and Confidence Survey, conducted in 2023 after the introduction of the new firearm registry, shows rock bottom levels of confidence in Police and the new Firearms Safety Authority.

The annual survey asked licensed firearm owners how confident they were in Police administering the Arms Act 1983. Respondents answered questions on a scale of 1-10, one being little to no confidence, and 10 being very confident.

Trust in Police to “fairly balance the promotion of possession and use of firearms with the need to impose controls on unlawful activity” scored the lowest of all questions with an average of 1.3 out of 10.

Police administering the act without personal bias scored an average of 1.6 out of 10, down from 2.1 in 2022 and 2021. Confidence in turnaround time for licensing scored a 2.0 out of 10, only slightly up from the 2022 score of 1.9 which came at a time of 12-month waits for license renewals.

COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said the survey shows the relationship between Police and Licensed Firearm Owners has continued to deteriorate.

“Our survey shows that 100,000 firearms on the registry is only evidence of compliance, not confidence in the Police or system.

“Firearm owners are registering because the law requires them to do so when they reapply for a license or endorsement, move address, or purchase a new firearm.

“Dealers are reporting drops in gun sales of up to 75%[1], as licensed firearm owners attempt to avoid these ‘activating circumstances’ which require them to register their firearms before the end of the 5-year grace period.”

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Devereux-Mack said repairing licensed firearm owner’s trust and confidence in the system should be top of mind for the new Government.

“There’s an increasing view among license holders that Police, the previous Labour Government, and Gun Control NZ were united in their dislike of the common firearm owner. This is reflected in the survey through the extraordinary perception of bias amongst the Police.”

“This impression has only grown as Te Tari Pūreke - Firearms Safety Authority use surveys by Gun Control NZ as addendums to their press releases[2], while ignoring surveys that show most Kiwis think the registry is unlikely to reduce gun crime,”[3] said Devereux-Mack.

The establishment of the Firearms Safety Authority has not bettered Police relations with firearm owners. Firearm owner confidence in the new authority scored a meagre 1.9 out of 10.

“Only 3 months on from the launch of New Zealand’s firearm registry, Te Tari Pūreke was responsible for the leaking of 147 firearm license holders’ details,”[4] said Devereux-Mack.

“The same basic error, putting emails in the carbon copy (cc) field rather than the blind carbon copy (bcc) field was made again in August, with the details of three firearm owners leaked.”[5]

“It might be a flashy new brand for Police, but it keeps making the same mistakes. It’s clear there is little confidence among firearm owners in its performance.”

This year the survey also asked firearm owners who had registered their firearms about their experience with the system. “I found the register easy to use online” scored 2.5 out of 10, and “I found the staff I encountered competent” scored 4.1 out of 10.

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