ELECTION 2023 – Act Confident it will Woo National on Firearm Reform

From Newsroom

The Act Party will fight to have the firearms registry shut down with its spokesperson Nicole McKee sure she can persuade National to rethink its support for it

Act and National have a lot of common ground when it comes to firearms policy, both wanting to overhaul the Arms Act and take the management of it away from police. 

However, the firearms registry will be a sticking point should the two parties be negotiating a coalition after the election.
Nicole McKee, the former spokesperson for the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, was catapulted into politics on the back of her advocacy against “knee-jerk” gun reform after the Christchurch mosque shootings. She is now the party’s spokesperson for firearms alongside justice, conservation and veterans.  

The current spokesperson for the council, Hugh Devereux-Mack, said should National and Act form a government, McKee should be the minister leading firearms reform. 

“I would anticipate that National would trust Nicole to take care of that because [she] is the expert at the table with such a deep level of knowledge with the community and the problems we face.  

“I almost expect a rugby pass of the firearms portfolio, or however that shapes up, to be passed along to Act to manage, which would make a lot of sense … Nicole is by far probably the most knowledgeable politician on firearms issues in Parliament currently standing for election.” 

However the Police Association has other ideas.

‘I don’t believe a responsible politician would want to have the blood on their hands of further victims by doing away with a firearms registry. I find it incredible they’d do it.’ said Chris Cahill, Police Association


Police Assn’s Chris Cahill – photo Newsroom

National leader Christopher Luxon said the party was committed to keeping the register. 

“We are supportive of the firearms register and we want to make sure that it’s effective and that the data is secure.” 

But McKee said she had arguments against both those points, and should there be coalition negotiations after the election, her number one priority would be making the case to get rid of it. 

The registry was a recommendation after the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attacks. 

“This is going to be a big conversation that I need to have with National … because when speaking to Mark Mitchell, he said to me, look we’ve got to have it because the police want it. 

“He’s ex-police and I understand where he’s coming from but we’ve got crime out of control, we’ve got gangs out of control, we need to target and focus spending in the right places.

“I have a great argument for getting rid of full registration of firearms, and they’re going to have no choice but to at least take on board the data and evidence that I’ll present to them as part of that conversation.” 

Act’s policy to get rid of the register is in line with the position of the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners which says the evidence does not support it, if the aim is to reduce gun crime and stop guns getting into the hands of unlicensed people. 

Devereux-Mack said the council would support anything that improved public safety but a register was not it. 

“For a large period of time police were running with the line that licensed firearms owners were the primary source of criminal arms based on the evidence and research. We went through the numbers and actually found we were the largest group that could be identified as the source accounting for 10 percent.  

“That’s a [mix of] stolen and straw buyers … but there was 82 percent which were ‘unknown’ sources from police’s own reports. 

“All [the registry] does is serve as an investigative tool to find out where a firearm came from, but only if it has a serial number and only if it was ever registered as a firearm that legally entered the country and was sold legally … It is ultimately worthless at reducing crime.” 

But Police Association president Chris Cahill said the evidence backed up the need for a register calling the council “a pack of liars”. 

“The bottom line is, as it stands, without a firearms register in New Zealand people were able to purchase as many firearms they like, there was no record that they had those firearms, there was no record of what they did with those firearms.” 

‘There’s just a real fear that by following the law, we are actually putting our families in danger.’ – Hugh Devereux-Mack, Council of Licensed Firearms Owners


Hugh Devereaux-Mack

“Police now have a firearm investigation team that was set up after the Christchurch massacre, and that’s really shown very clearly that the majority of criminals are getting their firearms from the retail division. So, in other words, legitimate firearms owners are buying their firearms and then selling them to criminals.” 

McKee said the issue of licensed people buying guns for an unlicensed person meant licensing and vetting needed to be better, not to have a register.  

About five percent of licensed firearms owners have signed up to the register, which came into effect in June.  

Devereux-Mack said most people were not signing up in the hope it would be scrapped. 

He said privacy concerns were people’s main issue. 

“There’s just a real fear that by following the law, we are actually putting our families in danger. I have a father who’s elderly. He lives in the middle of the countryside, about 12km from the nearest streetlights. So firearms owners [can] become very easy targets, if they’re collectors or have a large number of firearms. 

“We’ve seen multiple data breaches from police, everything from simple mistakes like [using] cc instead of bcc when sending emails to people.” 

Cahill said the only “real argument” against the registry was privacy concerns, which was something police took seriously.  

“Police have spent a large amount of money putting in the security to make it incredibly strong and much better than a paper-based system. So it’s the same sort of security that you have for your bank accounts and things like that. 

“I do totally agree, it’s got to be good security, but it’s not a reason not to have it.” 

He said “no responsible politician” would look at scrapping it.

“I don’t believe a responsible politician would want to have the blood on their hands of further victims by doing away with a firearms registry. I find it incredible they’d do it.” 

Act’s policy is also to change the licensing system to a three-tiered model: a standard licence, a restricted licence (which could include conditions such as a shorter licence period, different storage arrangements or a mental health referee) and an enhanced licence for firearms that possess enhanced capabilities over standard firearms (including semi-automatics for a specific purpose).

McKee said any changes to the Arms Act would only come after extensive public consultation. 

“One of the things we did not do is put it as an achievement for the first 100 days and I’m the one that held back and said no to that, because the reason why we’re in the mess that we’re in is because we rushed in legislation.

“I want to have full consultation and go through a full process. If we could get a first reading underway before Christmas I’d be rapt but I want to do this right and I want to make sure that everybody has a say.”

See https://www.newsroom.co.nz/act-confident-it-will-woo-national-on-gun-reform

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9 Responses to ELECTION 2023 – Act Confident it will Woo National on Firearm Reform

  1. Tony Orman says:

    Police Association president Chris Cahill misrepresents the truth. The evidence it won’t work is shown by overseas experience The cost of Canada’s firearms register blew out to over $2 billion, achieved only limited participation from firearms owners, and was then dumped in 2011.

  2. Pete says:

    ACT had better act on their pledge otherwise I would expect them to be a dead party walking. This I e mailed to Nicole McKee and David Seymour. I am hoping as one the firearm community walks away from them should they fail to deliver as promised

  3. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    It is fair to say that gun owners are staying away from the register in droves this is already having a deleterious effect on the gun trade and auctions as gun owners put off buying and selling guns so as not to trigger the need to register all their existing firearms, it needs to be scrapped.
    But also perhaps the most important of ACTs firearms policies, taking control of firearms licencing away from the police, needs to be implemented. It was Ardern who promised us a fully independent firearms authority, a promise that, along with so many others, she broke almost as soon as she had uttered the words.

  4. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    As legal safe recreational shooters along with all outdoor users ,we must not lose sight of the ultimate bottom line of various groups contending for power
    1.the left leaning Labor Greens etal would like to disarm the
    2.Maoridom has made no secret of their aim to take over the country, “one way or another ” we see before our eyes the fresh water grab & DOC preparations to hand over
    to hand over the conservation estate by way of “TheOptions Development Group. The recent strong moves to co governance,casting veto given to moedis if benefits are not forthcoming for moedis.
    It is clear receationalfirearms ownership has no place in this regression
    3.OnlyAct/National/NZ First will preserve our heritage of shooting rights,please remember this on election day.

  5. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Chris Cahill is not to be trusted & generally incompetent.
    I had 21 deer shot behind deer fencing on my farm Jan. 2019. A rapid response by neighbors surrounded & held the criminal poachers until police arrived all details were taken ID’s etc. The case was handed to Cahill Who eventually failed dutiess by not failed his duties not even cancelling the firearms licenses. of the criminal offenders.
    Cahill will be no friend of recreational shooters.

  6. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    For Cahill to call COLFO “a pack of liars” is absolutely reprehensible and speaks volumes about the insecurity he feels in his position. Since its inception COLFO has maintained the very highest standards of honesty and integrity in its reporting of the facts about gun control. The overwhelming body of evidence from both this country and overseas has shown that COLFOs position on the civilian ownership of firearms is correct and that law abiding, licenced gun owners are not a problem and represent no danger to the public at large. To infer otherwise as Cahill does on a regular basis is disgraceful and he should step down if he cannot moderate his language.

  7. Chaz Forsyth says:

    If firearm registration is expected to as successful as it is touted, then a far better case can be made for registering cutting and stabbing instruments.

    This is because they feature in 50% to 100% more violent offences than firearms do.

    The silence about the misuse of cutting and stabbing weapons is deafening!

  8. J B Smith says:

    For a public servant like Police Association president Christopher Cahill to call COLFO a “pack of liars” is shameful, disrespectful of his employers and worthy of a rap over the knuckles or harsher by whoever is the new police minister in the new government.
    He knows Canada tried a register and aftr a $2 billion blowout, gave it up.

  9. Michael C says:

    For Cahill to suggest anyone objecting to the gun registry will have blood on their hands is outrageous. It’s the police themselves who have blood on their hands after their sloppy handling of the application and granting the license to the mosque shooter. They should hang their heads in shame and give the job of licensing gun owners to someone else.

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