COLFO media releases on Miscellaneous Items





This evening the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) will host an election debate on the future of firearms in New Zealand society.

Candidates will debate what the place of firearms should be in New Zealand and whether there is a divergence in views between urban and rural communities.

Audience members will also hear from guest speakers on the utility of firearms in rural communities, and about Australia’s experience with changes to firearms laws.

Debate participants:

  • Hon Ron Mark MP
    NZ First Party Wairarapa candidate & firearms spokesperson
  • Mike Butterick
    National Party Wairarapa candidate
  • Celia Wade-Brown
    Green Party Wairarapa candidate
  • Nicole McKee
    ACT Party Rongotai candidate & firearms spokesperson

The Future of Firearms in New Zealand

Time: 6.30 – 8pm
Date: Friday 2 October
Location: The Masterton Club, 98 Chapel Street, Masterton

This event will be livestreamed on the COLFO Facebook and YouTube accounts, and will also be available on Wairarapa Freeview Channel 41.





An announcement today that three Police raids of firearm licence holders following the Christchurch Mosque shootings were illegal, raises questions about Police over-reacting to what people say on social media, according to the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police raided homes of firearm licence holders when the circumstances only warranted at most a visit and discussion. The Authority ruled that Police misused Section 18, which says Police may search, seize, and detain without warrant if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a breach of the Arms Act or an intention to kill or injure.

COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says heightened emotions had warped sound judgement at senior levels of the Police, revealing bias and antipathy toward firearm licence holders.

“Senior Police made major mistakes, broke the law and endangered lives because they let emotions get the better of them.

“These were not actions made with the best of intentions, but the basest of intentions – hostility toward a specific group of people.

“Their raids unnecessarily created highly volatile and aggressive situations involving ordinary citizens who had no connection to the Mosque shootings and posed no imminent danger to society.

“These weren’t just mistakes of the moment – these were raids organised and conducted by senior Police detectives mainly based on Facebook comments of their targets. In one case, the comments simply indicated opposition to the Government’s new firearm ban.”

COLFO helped bring these cases, and many others, to the attention of the Police Deputy Commissioner and Area Managers. Although the Authority noted that Police had subsequently apologised, Dowling says that COLFO is still receiving complaints about Police conduct toward firearm licence holders – even as recently as yesterday. 

“There is no indication that Police are learning from these mistakes at this time. Most people expected Police would act quickly after the events of March 15th to prevent copy-cat actions. However, we also expect that Police have processes, checks and controls in place to prevent internal bias and over-reaction when an organisation has access to deadly force in its response,” Dowling says.






The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) says Police are not giving the whole story behind their claims that licenced firearms owners are the source of firearms for violent criminal gangs.

The claim was made this morning by Detective Superintendent Greg Williams on Radio New Zealand.

COLFO Chairman, Michael Dowling, says that his members are getting fed up with Police impugning properly vetted licenced firearm owners.

“They constantly infer it’s a large number of firearm owners, when in fact it’s most likely to be existing gang affiliates that the Police themselves mistakenly gave firearm licences in recent years.

“Gang affiliates are not fit and proper people and thorough assessment required of the Police by law would have uncovered this.  These people should not have been given a licence and should not retain it when they are checked on.

“This problem lies at the door of the Police: they created it, and it is they who can fix it by vetting new applicants and existing owners thoroughly.

“Instead Police continue to vilify and in some cases persecute, ordinary law-abiding hunters, sports shooters and enthusiasts. These New Zealanders never posed a safety risk, and handed over banned firearms despite the poor compensation in some cases last year.”

Mr Dowling noted there are reports that poor vetting practice enabled the Christchurch mosque shooter to get a firearms licence, this will also be behind the Police giving licences to gang affiliates.






Confirmation today: 51 people died and 250,000 New Zealanders had their way of life severely curtailed because of one mistake: Police failed to follow existing licensing laws.

The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) has today responded with anger at confirmation from sources inside Police that Brenton Tarrant was given a firearm licence without going through the required procedures.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee says that the revelations in news media today are the start of the biggest scandal in the history of New Zealand Police – bigger even than the infamous Arthur Allan Thomas affair.  

“51 people died and 250,000 New Zealanders had their way of life severely curtailed because of one mistake: Police failed to apply the existing licensing laws.

“Police were in front Jacinda Ardern within 24 hours in what now looks like an attempt to distract politicians and media from their direct responsibility; that starts unravelling now.

“Following the Christchurch shooting, the Police advised Cabinet and a Select Committee to change firearm laws, they took firearms from innocent and safe New Zealanders, and they claimed to the public they were making New Zealander safer.

“Yet all along, it was they who had made the fatal mistake.

“They have known, and never admitted, that the existing licensing and firearm laws were adequate, and it was they themselves who failed to apply it.

“In recent months they have had the gall to advise MPs against improvements to the Arms Bill, especially to remove administration of gun law from Police to a dedicated agency. That Bill is only on Parliament’s Order Paper because of opportunist Police advice to Cabinet. $150m, later, they’ve destroyed their relationship with firearms owners, and NZ’s great history of collaborative control of gun ownership, we now know it was not our licensing laws that were at fault.”




Real life examples of how arms administration does not match the legislation


Case #3:

Police claim firearms sport memorabilia does not meet "historic" definition


3 June 2020



Under the most recent changes to the Arms Act, collectors have been told that they need to construct distinctly themed collections. Police then assess whether there is a cohesive theme and then whether each prohibited firearm would then fit within the theme of the collection/s

Many collectors are interested in New Zealand firearms history and have created collections relating to this theme. These tend to detail the types of firearms used by New Zealanders throughout history, preserving examples for future generations.

The recent ban on MSSAs has meant that they too have become items of historic record in their own right. Collectors have started preserving these sorts of firearms so that the examples and types used by New Zealanders are not lost to time.

We have been contacted by one such collector who had his endorsement processed, only for Police to refuse several MSSAs that existed as part of his collection. They argued that as the firearms in question were of a sporting variety, they could not be included in a collection on New Zealand history.

The problem

Aside from pest control, MSSAs were very often used in sporting competitions such as Three Gun.

New Zealand’s sport shooting community is a strong one which covers many disciplines. It would be a poor move for Police to ban the collection of sports memorabilia from a collection established to showcase New Zealand firearms history

What should have happened

Police ought to recognise that sports memorabilia can and should constitute an important part of New Zealand history that is worth preserving.

The recent changes to firearms laws have meant that several sport shooting events enjoyed by New Zealanders can no longer take place. It is important that we keep records of these events and the firearms used in them.

Guidance for the LFO community

The Police are trying to deny some collectors possession of now-prohibited firearms. Licenced collectors can and should challenge Police on their rationale if they are looking to deny possession of items in a collection. We have heard of a few instances of collectors successfully challenging Police on particular firearms.

Make sure you keep good records of your interactions with Police on firearms matters. If they advise you that they are looking to refuse your possession of a collectable firearm, get their rationale in writing and consider escalating matters further to a specialist firearms lawyer.



Real life examples of how arms administration does not match the legislation


Case #2:

Citizen made to fly to NZ for police vetting, then Police decide not to allow licence for non-residents

28 May 2020



A New Zealander living in Australia returns home a few times every year, and one of his favourite pastimes is going hunting with his New Zealand family.

In December last year he applied for a firearms licence [renewal]. Police required him to fly to New Zealand to do the test and undertake in-person vetting to make sure he was a fit and proper person.

He came back home, did the test, and was vetted by a Police officer in early March.

After more than a week of delay and inquiries from the application, Police subsequently informed him that they would not progress his application because he lived overseas. They claimed that living in Australia prevented them verifying that he would continue to be a fit and proper person.

They said he must now apply for a visitors’ licence each time he came back to his homeland to hunt.

The problem

Our complainant had already told Police about his situation and that he lived in Australia.

They told him to come to New Zealand for the vetting – which took time and money. That is what is required by the standard process.

Police have reinterpreted the Arms Act and changed their processes, without engaging with those that are affected, or seeking feedback form the firearms community.

The law gives Police the ability to provide firearms licences for less than the standard 10 years if the person is visiting New Zealand. Instead of doing this, they decided to deny a licence after an applicant started the licence process.


What should have happened

Police were right to test and vet our applicant in-person.

Police should be consistent in how they administer the Arms Act. There was no transparency around this change in policy, and the applicant was expressly told he could obtain a 10-year licence if he went through the process.

Natural justice would suggest that at the very least Police should have proceeded with the application on the basis that it had started under a different policy regime.

The Police refunded the licence application. We believe they should have contributed to his travel costs, as he had travelled to New Zealand because they said he must.

Guidance for the LFO community

Keep details of your conversations with Police and challenge them on their legal and policy basis for decisions, especially if they quickly change their minds.






The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners is welcoming a change in stance by the Government that will see licenced firearms owners given a 4-month extension to get their licences renewed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

This measure is one of many that the Government has introduced as part of the Covid-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee says that while only a small number of licenced-holders will have found themselves needing to renew their licences during the Covid-19 alert level restrictions, the Government was addressing an important issue.

“In early April we called on the Government to extend firearms licences, just as they had done for vehicle licences. It is good to see that this message has got through and the Government is now taking action.”

COLFO made a submission to the Epidemic Response Committee on the Bill, which supported the extension and called for the committee to ensure licence fees were not increased.

“Members of our community have been concerned for some time that changes to licences would give politicians an excuse to increase fees. We would like to thank the Committee for considering our submission and recommending an extension for licence renewals without any fee increase.”

Prior to entering lockdown, COLFO had encouraged members of the licenced firearms community to seek licence renewals while they could. However, some may have been unable to do so before the country went into lockdown.

“Licenced firearms owners do not want to find themselves on the wrong side of the law due to bureaucratic oversight. They pride themselves as being law-abiding people.

“We welcome the Government’s common-sense change to extend the duration of firearms licences for members of our community who have found themselves in this difficult situation.”

The Bill is currently before Parliament and is expected to pass later today.





The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) urges people renewing their firearm licences to book now to get their vetting done with Police before Police postpone face to face interviews.

COLFO fears that the threat posed by the Covid-19 coronavirus may mean Police postpone or conduct interviews via videoconference in the near future.

COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says dropping face to face interviews will threaten the integrity of granted licences.

“Vetting people in person is the best way for Police to ascertain whether a firearms licence applicant is fit and proper. It is a critical test of character and aptitude that has kept firearms out of the hands of unsuitable individuals.”

“If you are renewing your licence soon, please contact Police to organise your in-person vetting before it’s too late,” says Dowling.






The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) is welcoming the establishment of a new Police anti-corruption unit, and says it shows Police are under pressure from sophisticated gangs.

The National Integrity Unit has been established to deter, prevent and detect corruption within New Zealand Police.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee says:

“We applaud New Zealand Police for admitting that they have a problem with corruption.

“Now it’s time for the Government to take the proposed firearms register off the table. To establish a centralised database of firearms in an organisation grappling with corruption is dangerous and foolhardy.

“The recent imprisonment of a corrupt officer for selling Police database information to gangs must serve as a wake-up call.

“Just one corrupt cop accessing the firearms register could jeopardise the safety of the licenced firearms owning community.”

Last month COLFO released figures obtained through the Official Information Act showing that since 2011, Police recorded:

  • 244 instances of unauthorised use of a database
  • 244 breaches of privacy and confidentiality
  • 138 dishonesty offences
  • 21 cases of inappropriate or unlawful disclosure of information
  • 9 instances of corruption






The thoughts of 250,000 fit and proper firearms licence holders are with the people of Christchurch and the Muslim community as New Zealand marks one year since the March 15 tragedy.

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee says:

“We are in sympathy with New Zealand’s Muslim community and the people of Christchurch.

“We remain aggrieved by that targeted attack on our way of life, our values, and our safety. That event does not represent or define us.

“New Zealand is a peaceful and inclusive country. It is this peace that allows all New Zealanders of all backgrounds freedom to enjoy our way of life.

“We are thankful that those so deeply harmed by that event have not allowed it to change our peaceful nation.”

Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei hea te kōmako e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
Māku e kī atu
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

If the heart of the harakeke was removed,
Where will the bell bird sing?
If I was asked what was the most important thing in the world;
I would be compelled to reply, it is people, it is people, it is people





The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) has placed full-page adverts in major newspapers to show Kiwi lifestyles jeopardised by the Arms Legislation Bill.

The advertisement shows Kiwi families and individuals of all ages responsibly using firearms in a variety of ordinary pursuits such as hunting pests and competitive shooting.

It was published today in the Dominion Post, Otago Daily Times, The Press, and the Waikato Times.

The New Zealand Herald refused to publish images of responsible firearms owners, children or hunted animals. 

COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee says the advertising campaign was about drawing attention to the threat facing an important Kiwi pastime.

“Many are unaware of the changes being considered by our government, and the negative impact these would have on thousands of ordinary New Zealanders. The people affected by these changes won’t be criminals or gang members, but ordinary law-abiding Kiwis.

“The Arms Legislation Bill has been marketed as improving the safety of New Zealanders. But the provisions in it will threaten the viability of clubs and ranges throughout the country that have worked hard to foster a strong tradition of firearms safety.
McKee says that the newspaper advertising campaign was made possible due to the hundreds of donations received since an appeal went out to supporters of the Fair and Reasonable campaign last week.

“Our initial aim was to publish an advert in one of New Zealand’s leading newspapers. But the generous support of the licenced firearm owner community has allowed us to take out several more adverts and reach a much wider audience.”





The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners is calling on Police Minister Stuart Nash to front up and explain, after releasing new figures showing that since 2011, Police employees have been caught 244 times for unauthorised use of confidential and sensitive Policing databases.

“These figures raise serious questions about the Police’s oversight of the Government’s proposed firearms register,” says Nicole McKee, Spokesperson for the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).

“If the Police can’t keep the information they already have secure, how do they expect us to have any confidence a criminal’s goldmine such as a national firearms register would remain safe?”

The revelation of Police misuse of databases comes as Members of Parliament debate and vote on the second reading of a Bill that creates a database of every firearm in New Zealand.

“The figures prove that it is almost certain that a register of all firearms would be unlawfully accessed and jeopardise the safety of law abiding firearms owners whose information (including security information) would be at risk,” says Ms McKee.

“Anyone voting for a register needs to accept responsibility for what happens when it is eventually accessed unlawfully.”

“Everyone on it, and all New Zealanders, are at risk from criminals who attain the information to steal and use firearms.”

“This isn’t just a database of information – it’s a database of the location of every firearm in New Zealand. It’s dangerous information in the wrong hands – and unfortunately, based on these disturbing figures, those wrong hands include the Police themselves.”

McKee says that these latest figures, coupled with the breach of the firearms notification database late last year, have eroded any remaining faith licenced firearms owners had in Police to protect their data.

“The unlawful disclosure of information and Police corruption paints the picture of an agency ill-equipped to protect licenced firearms owners’ personal details.”

“There is at least one case where a corrupt Police officer has sold database information to gangs. When all firearms are on a database, all New Zealanders are put at much more risk than they are right now.”

The figures obtained under the Official Information Act released by the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) show that since 2011 Police recorded:

  • 244 instances of unauthorised use of a database
  • 244 breaches of privacy and confidentiality
  • 138 dishonesty offences
  • 21 cases of inappropriate or unlawful disclosure of information
  • 9 instances of corruption

The Microsoft Excel sheet of Police data released under the Official Information Act is available here.






A plan to include images of licenced firearm owners alongside prisoners and sex offenders on a facial recognition system that monitors security cameras further demonises law abiding people.

Nicole McKee, spokesperson for the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) says the plan, announced a few weeks ago, has quickly become the most cited grievance from owners resisting pressure to hand in prohibited firearms by this Friday.

“Lumping firearm owners with prisoners and sex offenders is an insult that has caused heavy resentment.

“It is being held up as exhibit number one; that Police mistrust and dislike licenced firearms owners.

“We’ve already passed more checks than most members of the public – yet we’re the ones being grouped with criminals.”





The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) has hit out at errors in correspondence that led Police and Customs to reveal the private details of firearm owners in letters.

Images show enveloped letters from NZ Police and Customs which allow anyone handling the mail to identify the recipients as licenced firearms owners, without having to open it.

COLFO spokeswoman Nicole McKee says the privacy breaches show that data registries can be let down by human error as much as insecure technology and hacks.

“Even simple mistakes like misfolded contents in envelopes can undermine a secure database. The results can be devastating - such as thieves targeting the recipient to steal firearms, or making fake firearm licences. That’s why licenced firearms owners generally keep a low profile.

“Human error, as well as technology failure, is why licenced firearm owners don’t trust the Government’s planned registry of all firearms,” she said.


Below – Incorrectly folded letters and envelope choices display licence and firearm details. Customs staff hand wrote address details on the envelope (whited out).




The Christchurch mosque attack might not have occurred had police had the resources to enforce firearms restrictions they control, according to the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).

In a submission this week to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the shootings, COLFO said the alleged perpetrator was less likely to have been licenced under the process in place before 2015, and would not have had large capacity magazines if police had followed advice to restrict their sale.

COLFO chair Michael Dowling said it was clear that the alleged perpetrator should never have been deemed a ‘fit and proper’ person to own the guns and large capacity magazines used in the attack.

“He was able to slip through gaps created by a system chronically stretched by poor resourcing and funding, as well as a lack of expertise and knowledge.”

It appeared that Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant obtained a licence to own the firearms used in the attacks despite factors that should have alerted police to his unsuitability.

"We don’t know the background checks into Tarrant, but we do know he had travelled to unusual locations internationally, was not a New Zealand resident for long and was not involved with firearms as a hobby.

“Despite this, Tarrant applied for, and received, his firearms licence in 2017.

“This raises serious concerns for vetting procedures and whether the 2010 police vetting guide was adhered to during Tarrant’s licencing process. We understand that his referees had never met him in person, nor did they include a family member.”

Mr Dowling said that while details of the licencing of Tarrant were murky, his ability to commit the alleged crimes would have been reduced had police made changes COLFO had earlier recommended to the existing E category endorsement.

“It was a change of interpretation in 2009 that encouraged more imports of ‘non-military’ AR15 rifles for A category licence owners, and for those same owners to buy large capacity magazines that turned them into much more powerful firearms.

“COLFO had urged previously that large magazines be restricted consistent with E category firearms. Our submissions on that and many other issues were dismissed by police.”

Mr Dowling said the horrific tragedy might have been avoided had police worked with the firearms community rather than against it.

“In recent years the police have not effectively administered the Arms Act. They have not listened to external advice from experts. This stubbornness, combined with reductions in budget for background vetting and firearms safety, had a part in this terrible tragedy.”

The submission is available online at





The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) are concerned at the statements by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Minister Stuart Nash at the Post-Cabinet Press Conference this afternoon stating that firearm ownership and licences should be restricted to New Zealand citizens.

“No one was expecting the Government to require citizenship in order to enjoy the Kiwi pleasures of duck shooting, or deer stalking,” says Nicole McKee, the spokesperson for COLFO’s Fair and Reasonable campaign.  “This would have the effect of revoking many thousands of licences, and mean that permanent residents can vote, be in our military, but not be allowed to own a firearm.”

 “This is a step too far, and would have the effect of excluding permanent residents from pastimes which are central to rural communities.”

“What makes the announcement particularly strange is that despite media asking follow up questions, confirming the Ministers’ positions that only citizens will be able to obtain licences, nowhere in the written material can we find reference to this new restriction.”

“The Prime Minister and Minister of Police, are either not over the detail of what they propose, or have failed to mention what is one of the biggest changes to the law in any of the consultation material.  Either way it creates uncertainty in a community that the Government should be working with, not against, to ensure New Zealand has reasonable and proportionate firearms law reform.”



Licenced Firearms owners launch new crowdfunded campaign to ensure Fair and Reasonable firearms laws



The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) has today launched the “Fair and Reasonable" campaign in response to rushed firearms legislation recently introduced by the Government.

Campaign spokeswoman Nicole McKee says, “When new firearms legislation was drafted earlier this year, it excluded consultation with firearms organisations and lawful holders of firearms licences.”

“Responsible firearms users want to be a part of the solution and give their practical advice to officials but to date have been denied access to officials and a fair hearing.”

“Our members have created this group to fight for proportionate, fair and reasonable firearms law. We will take our concerns to the Courts if that is necessary for our members to be heard.”

“This campaign is being crowdfunded via donations at All New Zealanders share an interest in having fair and reasonable firearms law. We encourage firearms owners and all responsible New Zealanders to contribute to the campaign.”

Notes for editors:

Three members of the firearms community are guardians of the campaign funds raised. Their knowledge, skills and personalities will bring the range of cultures in the firearms community together for a single cause. They are tasked with oversight to ensure that all funds donated are used exclusively for the campaign.

The guardians are:

  • Rachael Dean MNZM – COLFO Council Member, Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Fraud Examiner
  • Bill O’Leary – Immediate Past President New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, Retired Founding Board member of the Game Animal Council
  • David Tipple – Firearms Dealer and Importer

The campaign website is