Media Release COLFO
The burglary of firearms owner’s details from the old Auckland police station is confirmation that Police cannot administer the Arms Act for the safety of New Zealand citizens, says the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners (COLFO).
COLFO Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack says the personal details of licensed firearm owners are a ‘shopping list’ for criminals which Police have failed numerous times to keep secure.
“The burglary of a New Zealand Police station is an embarrassment for Police, but the theft of private files and equipment is life-threatening.
“The information had clearly been kept by the thieves, which meant they recognised its value. They may have already used it to break into homes of licensed firearm owners. The firearms they stole may have already been used in crimes.
“Information on the locations of firearms is highly valuable, and licensed firearm owners supply that information to Police on the promise they’ll treat the information carefully. They continue to fail to do this very basic and essential job. This is an appalling situation.
“The burglary reveals the real danger at the heart of the pointless firearm register – that the weak link is inside the Police themselves,” Devereux-Mack says.
Devereux-Mack says the stolen information would have been worse under a firearm register regime.
“If the firearms register was in place, that list would not only have names and addresses, but a dollar value next to them, telling criminals which licensed firearms owners would make the highest value targets.
“Criminals could break into family homes knowing exactly what they’re looking for. They’ll already be armed with illegal guns not on the register, endangering the families they are stealing from.
“Once they have the firearms, the serial number is filed off and those guns become ‘ghost firearms’ – which Police have admitted make it next to impossible to trace back to the original licensed owner.
“A firearms register won’t hinder criminals – it’s a potential advantage. An advantage that could prove deadly for a licensed firearms owner and their family.”
Devereux-Mack says Police only became aware of the recent breach when they found the list while executing an unrelated search warrant.
“They had no idea the list had been stolen, and they have no idea how many licensed firearm owner’s names are on other stolen lists currently being passed between criminals.”
“Previous breaches have been discovered through sheer luck. How many other documents do we not know about that have ended up in the hands of criminals because of Police bumbling firearms administration?
In 2019, the details of more than 37,000 firearm owners, including the guns they possessed and bank account information, were open to access in a breach of the gun buyback website.
“It wasn’t the Police that found the breach – it was a firearm owner who found they could access more than their own details, and raised the alarm.”
For further information contact: Hugh Devereux-Mack. 027 362 0853