COLFO media releases on the Firearms Register




The Police Association’s call to implement a firearms register looks like an attempt to distract ahead of the release next week of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Terrorist Attack on Christchurch Mosques.

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) Chairman Michael Dowling says:

“We expect the Royal Commission will be very critical of Police’s administration of the Arms Act.

“Mr Cahill seems to be making an agitated attempt to distract from Police failures that precipitated the Christchurch mosque tragedy.”

“Police may have had more time to consider some of the findings of the Royal Commission than the general public. We ask that the public get a chance to consider the findings before government agencies punish licenced firearm owners further for their failings. Our members have felt scapegoated by Police with the introduction of Arms Act amendments.

“A firearms register would not have stopped Brenton Tarrant from committing his heinous crimes. But proper Police vetting would have stopped him receiving a firearms licence in the first place.”

“Firearms licenses have also been issued to gang affiliates, are being stolen from licenced owners or illegally imported along with drugs and other contraband items.

“A firearms register will not make New Zealanders any safer from criminal gangs with nefarious intent who have access to existing firearm stockpiles.”







Revelations that firearms licences were included in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s Tuia250 data breach has further eroded trust with licenced firearms owners.

Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) spokesperson Nicole McKee says:

“This latest revelation shows yet another government privacy breach putting licenced firearms owners and their families at risk.

“What’s more intolerable is that it looks like the Ministry of Culture was more concerned with saving the government from embarrassment than disclosing the nature of the breach to the public.”

McKee says that this is the type of data breach licenced firearms owners fear with the proposed firearms register.

“In the space of a few months we have seen multiple breaches of licenced firearms owners’ privacy. First with the Police firearms notification system and now with Tuia250.

“This culture of privacy breaches shows that the government’s proposed firearms register will be a danger to the licenced firearms community.”






The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) is calling on New Zealand’s growing gangland community to front up and tell police how many firearms they possess and how many of their members are licenced to own and use them.

“It’s a ridiculous proposition, of course,” says COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee. “The real bad guys with guns – the gangs – aren’t going to comply with the Government’s proposed firearm register.”

COLFO today released its intended submission on the Arms Bill and has identified the planned registry of firearms as the Bill’s most pointless and expensive proposition.

“The biggest issue is that many people won’t register some or all their firearms – and the most likely not to be registered are those which could be used to kill people.

McKee said COLFO was equally concerned that “firearm owners and their families will be placed at risk by a hack of a firearms register that delivers a shopping list to criminals.”

In past few weeks official agencies have had private data they hold on citizens stolen; the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Tū Ora Compass Health, and the Commerce Commission.

“The privacy and security threats posed by a firearms register is very real. Just two years ago, the addresses of 30,000 licenced firearm owners in London were released to a private company.”

Police want to provide the register to other agencies, which the Privacy Commissioner said gave concern “for misuse of firearms information and the unintended safety consequences for people who have firearms licences or people living at addresses at which firearms are stored.”

Firearms registers are expensive and ineffectual. In 1995, the Canadian government claimed that their firearms register would cost Canadian taxpayers only CAN$2 million to establish. By early 2004, that figure had become CAN$2 billion. It was scrapped in 2012.

Other problems with a register include:

  • Failure to prevent mass shooting: there is nothing about a register that makes people less likely to be shot by a registered or unregistered firearm.
  • We already had a registry of endorsed firearms: owners of E-category licences have had to register semi-automatics. When the gun and magazine used in the Christchurch mass shooting were connected, they were required to be registered.
  • Location of registered firearms: the planned register connects a firearm with a location. When it is moved, even temporarily for hunting or holidays, the register must be updated. The practical and logistical weight of this means it won’t be obeyed, creating criminals of ordinary licence holders, and undermining the purpose of the recorded location.

COLFO's submission (draft only) is available on the Fair and Reasonable website: