Firearm Registry- Political, Not a Pragmatic One?

Opinion by Chaz Forsyth


The value of a registry as a crime prevention and crime solving tool has repeatedly been advanced by its supporters..  The police on many occasions before the recent law changes have argued that a registry is not necessary for their operations, so the decision to embark upon a registry seems to be political, not a pragmatic one.  The late Sir Thomas Thorp qualified his support for a firearm register by noting that “…unless a compliance rate of not less than 90 percent can be achieved, the benefits derived from registration would be significantly reduced” (Thorp, 1997, p. 184).

Licensed firearm owners already offend if they illegally possess or sell firearms

Five offences exist in law for illegally supplying or possessing firearms.  These attract penalties of up to two years of imprisonment or fines of up to $15,000.

Limited crime prevention potential of full firearm registration

The police, in 1996, noted in their evidence-in-chief to the Thorp Review (1997) of firearms that there was little evidence that universal registration provided any real benefits unless it was accompanied by regular checks every 2-3 years on the firearms held by every firearm owner.

The police also noted that, “…there is little evidence that a registration system would be instrumental either in solving serious crime involving firearms or preventing them.  The majority of firearms used in serious crime do not belong to the offender and are usually stolen, unlawfully in their possession or supplied by other than a licensed owner.

Proponents for this measure also overlook the fact that although registration of motor vehicles for road use is near-universal, more than 20,000 motor vehicles are stolen annually, some of which undoubtedly feature in reported offending (Otago Daily Times 30 April 2022).  This is for a motor vehicle fleet of some 4.5 million vehicles.  Compared to firearms (for which an estimated 1.2 million are in private ownership in New Zealand), the annual total reported stolen is approximately 1,000, testament surely to the greater security afforded these items?

Just what we want – another waste of taxpayer’s money!


Otago Daily Times (2022), “Security roller door didn’t stop latest ram-raid”, Otago Daily Times, 30 April 2022.

Thorp, T.M. (1997) Review of Firearms Control in New Zealand – Report of an Independent Inquiry Commissioned by the Minister of Police.  Wellington, New Zealand: GP Print. (281 pp.).


Why the gun register will fail! It will be full of errors!

Why? We give you one simple example.

The new Registry requires firearms owners to enter details of the rifles they own. That includes the make model and serial number of each rifle. Essential if the Register is to fulfil its design purpose.

That sounds easy enough – BUT – it isn’t. Police haven’t taken the trouble to learn from all the other (failed) firearms registers around the world.

Take an obvious example the humble “Lee Enfield .303”.
Probably the second most common rifle in New Zealand, having been used by thousands of hunters throughout the 20th century. These ex military rifles will definitely have a serial number. BUT Where on the rifle is that serial number or even the name of the manufacturer for that matter.

Is it made by Lee Enfield?
No, because the manufacturer could be a Small Arms Factory at Enfield, BSA, Sparkbrook, LSA, Long Branch, Savage, Maltby, Fazakerly, Lithgow, Ishapore, Pakistan, Nepal to name a few and often only indicated by a war time code letter rather than the name.

Is the model LE (Lee Enfield) or LM (Lee Metford)? Depending on the type of rifling.
Not necessarily because the model could be: LE I, LE I*, LEC, Sht LE III, No 4 Mk I, No 4 Mk 1/3, No 5 Mk I, etc. etc.

Which is the Serial No and where does the owner find it?
On early ones it is on the RHS of the receiver ring, with the same or sometimes a different number on the barrel. On No 4s (WW II) onwards it is on LHS of the receiver body or on the butt socket.
BUT in those same places are also unit marks and numbers. So which number will the naive owner choose – always assuming he can find it.

A few hundred serious collectors will know which is which but the many thousands of lone hunters out there won’t know these subtleties. Don’t believe us? Just look on Trademe to see them simply listed as 303 rifle.

Magazines: thousands (literally) have no manufacturers marking of any form.

So if an innocent owner enters in the register say a unit rack number or Home Guard No are they providing false information to the registry? Will they be charged with an offence?are they providing false information to the registry? Will they be charged with an offence?

Chris Hipkins, Nicole McKee open WSR shooting season

On Saturday the new long range shooting season opened at Trentham in Upper Hutt. It was great to see the Minister of Police Hon Chris Hipkins attend and participate in the opening match with Nicole McKee, the Mayor of Upper Hutt Wayne Guppy and Mayoral Candidate Angela McLeod.

Full info’ here:

But are politicians aware that their changes to the Arms Act will result in the closure of many ranges and prevent many firearm owners from taking part in this sport?

Let them know we care!

Dodgy Police statistics reveals failure of gun law “reforms”

Referring to this article, it is apparent that “gun crime” has not declined since the confiscation of thousand s of semi auto rifles from law abiding firearm owners, and the tighter gun controls put in place by the Labour government.
Police data collection on gun crime is flawed, failing to differentiate when an actual crime is committed with a real gun, or no gun is present at all.
All this article does, is to put fear in the minds of the general population, and shows where most gun crime is committed, but fails to tell us who is responsible and where the perpetrators come from. It also ignores the mobility of criminals, who are unlikely to offend in their ‘home’ suburbs.
However, if they’re using registered vehicles to get around, why can these not be traced to work out where they live? Maybe this is just too simple?

Update 20220907; response from COLFO