Police Minister declares the new firearms registry open for business – but it’s in the cross hairs of stuff ACT is gunning for
The one new announcement on the government’s official website today – to proclaim the digital Firearms Registry has begun operating – is matched on the Scoop website by a vow from the ACT Party to gun down the registry.
And in another statement on the Scoop site – this time from the National Party – the Minister of Police is challenged to clarify data she provided in a press release she issued earlier this month.
Her latest statement, of the “look what a great job we are doing” variety, has been posted here –
Latest from the Beehive
The new digital Firearms Registry began operating today, delivering another milestone in the improvement of firearms safety and oversight in New Zealand, Police Minister Ginny Andersen said.
The registry is one of the final firearms reforms following the March 2019 terror attack in Christchurch.
In her statement, Ginny Andersen says from today, nearly a quarter of a million firearms licence holders in New Zealand will begin entering their firearms and arms items into the new Firearms Registry, fulfilling a promise the Government made in 2019.
Can she be sure of that number?
Significantly, she says making New Zealand a safer place will be helped by licence holders “doing the right thing” and filling in the new Registry.
But there are many New Zealanders who won’t want to the right thing as defined by the minister and her government.
It’s easy to pass a law that requires us to do this, that or the other, but you can never be sure how many will comply.
And the people most likely to use their weapons for criminal purposes are the least likely to provide the information required by the authorities.
But Andersen does have something new to explain:
“Until now, there has been no complete picture of where all the lawfully held firearms in our community are, and no visibility of how firearms are moving around the community – when people are buying, selling, or passing firearms on to other people,” Ginny Andersen said.
“That changes from now. As licence holders fill in the new Firearms Registry, it will give a much clearer picture and this transparency will help stop firearms being transferred into criminal hands.
“We’ve listened throughout this period and made common sense changes.”
And now to the compliance requirements:
For each arms item a licence holder possesses, they will record such things as the make, model and the serial number.
Ongoing, licence holders will need to record in the Registry whenever they sell, purchase, modify, or notify the theft or loss of their firearms.
But the paper work isn’t required in a hurry – unless…..
“People in possession of firearms have up to five years to complete the Registry, however when undertaking certain activities, like buying or selling a firearm, they will need to enter their details into the Registry sooner.”
There is no cost to enter their arms items in the Registry.
But what about privacy?
“The privacy of licence holders’ information is critical. I know that security and privacy has been a top priority for Police throughout the build of the Registry System.
“The online platform has been through multiple security assessments by independent security experts. These are the same security experts that do assessments of New Zealand banks, telecommunication providers, government departments, and insurance companies.”
The ACT statement is headed ACT Will Repeal Firearms Register
“The full registration of firearms is a wasteful and dangerous exercise and ACT will repeal it,” says ACT’s Firearms spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“This is not a good use of taxpayer money. Overseas experience has shown that full registration of firearms doesn’t work. The cost of Canada’s firearms register blew out to over $2 billion, achieved only limited participation from firearms owners, and was then dumped in 2011. This one is currently budgeted at $208 million, who knows what the final cost will be.”
In response to Andersen saying this is a good way to find out where the guns are, McKee insists:
“The police already know where the licensed owners’ guns are. They’ve been in our homes, they’ve interviewed our families, and they’ve checked and approved our security. They know exactly where we are, who we are, and who we live with.”
The register can only work if everyone complies, including gang members and criminals, McKee points out – but:
“There is no chance of this happening.”
She referenced Police information that 46 per cent of seized firearms had no serial number recorded at all.
Moreover, responses to Written Parliamentary Questions show that 95 per cent of firearm charges are laid against people who are not licensed.
“Gun crime in New Zealand is out of control, but creating a register will do nothing to fix this and once again shows the Government’s focus is on law-abiding firearms owners rather than gangs.”
National has something to say on the Police front, too.
In a statement headed Government Must Come Clean On Police Numbers, National’s Mark Mitchell says Ginny Andersen has left many questions unanswered about how the Government pulled off an unusually large increase in Police numbers the month before they celebrated hitting their 1,800 target.
Since 2017, the Police muster has grown by an average of 26 staff per month, he contends.
But the month before the Government claimed to hit its target, the muster increased by 157.
“With Police only graduating 138 front-line staff and losing 29 in that month, there is a shortfall of 48 officers, which the Minister still needs to explain.
“The Government has only said that ‘other movements’ played a role but has not clarified what this means.”
Labour promised to the be the most transparent Government ever, Mitchell reminds us, but their refusal to front up and explain the numbers showed the promise “was nothing but lip service.”
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton