Thousands of illegal firearms still in circulation

Despite the Government claiming to make New Zealand safer with its firearms reforms and gun buyback, according to the Auditor-General we still don’t know how many now illegal firearms are in the country, National’s Police spokesperson Brett Hudson says.

“It’s very clear the Government’s gun buyback has merely been a marketing exercise, it hasn’t made New Zealand any safer.

“That’s because, as Police acknowledged today, most law-abiding New Zealanders handed in their now-prohibited firearms, but gangs and criminals, those who pose the greatest risk to our safety, did not.

“The Police themselves estimate there could be as many as 180,000 now illegal firearms still floating around, but we will never know the exact number because even if a firearms register is legislated, those prohibited firearms will never appear in it.

“Instead of punishing law-abiding New Zealanders, Police Minister Stuart Nash should’ve picked up our Firearms Prohibitions Orders Bill which gives Police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members. That’s where the focus should be.

“There were options available to the Government to get better estimates of the number of now-illegal firearms remaining in circulation and to ensure better compliance. The Government knew options were available to better prove the success of its scheme. It chose not to take them.

“The Government has spent millions of dollars on the buyback, but New Zealanders will never know how many prohibited firearms remain in circulation, nor to what extent the program has made them safer.”