Minister should audit firearms license ‘cost recovery’ proposed by Police

Media release

Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO)


COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack.

The Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) has asked the Police Minister to audit the proposed fee increases for firearm license holders after revelations Police may have exaggerated
its costs to administer the license regime. 

Police have not published an explanation for how the proposed fee increases were derived, months after it was promised (February). Consultation on the proposed fee options is now closed.

The increase in fees for firearm license holders is supposed to recover costs incurred by Police in administering the regulations.

However, the proposed fees for activities like license renewals are far higher than the likely cost to Police, says COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack.

“If the highest fee proposal is accurate, which the Police claim it is, that means the Police numbers show it takes a Police staffer 35 hours to process one license application – almost a full week of work.”[1]

“This doesn’t seem plausible – a standard license renewing process should only take 8 hours.

“If we’re right, and it’s not true, then where are those extra costs coming from? The Police haven’t told us, and we doubt they’ve told the Minister.”

The Government recently reduced driver license fees after a review of Waka Kotahi’s funding found the average cost of getting or renewing a license was set higher than the cost of providing the service.[2]

“The reduction in driver’s license fees shows Government agencies do get their calculations wrong,” says Devereux-Mack.

“The same overcharging seems to be present in the firearm license fees proposed by Police, and the costs should be similarly reviewed.”

Devereux-Mack says COLFO has asked Police Minister Ginny Andersen to investigate how the firearms licensing costs were derived, and to do it before the first new fee is paid.

“The consultation is now closed, and Police still haven’t cited any of the costs they are recovering for what they call a ‘cost recovery’ programme.

“Without justification, the numbers look made-up, and for many licensed firearm owners the proposed increases feel like a con.

“For her own peace of mind, the Minister should audit the cost recovery and verify these numbers with Police.

“Once the first new fee is paid it will be incredibly difficult for Police to turn around and redo the costings.”

Devereux-Mack says whatever answer the Police give will reveal a problem.

“If the numbers have been made-up by Police, the Minister will need to review the whole process.”

“If the numbers are true, and it really does take Police 35 hours of work to process a license, that is unacceptable, and the Minister has a serious culture and workforce issue on her hands.

“The Minister will find an underlying sentiment within Police that licensed firearm owners are an easy target for punitive rules and collection of moneys.

Devereux-Mack says this was shown when the Police Association recently refused to publish a COLFO article informing members of the lack of data behind the proposals, and Police advice to Government that the fees would lead to safety risks for frontline officers.

“The anti-firearm owner sentiment apparently even overrides the risk to frontline officers of more firearms disappearing and potentially making their way into criminal hands, which was revealed in a briefing to the Minister in January.”[3]

Devereux-Mack says licensed firearm owners realise the fees should increase but increasing them by almost 500 percent is extraordinary.

“The extreme increases proposed, despite the roll-on effect it could have for frontline Police, is a strong indication that Police want licensed firearm owners punished, no matter what the repercussions may be.”


[1] COLFO’s full workings were published in a previous press release on February 14th, 2023.



For further information contact COLFO spokesperson: Hugh Devereux-Mack. 027 362 0853

Note to the editor: 

A breakdown of the costs behind the proposed ‘cost recovery’, using the example of license renewals.

1.       In the new proposals, Police state that the full cost to them to issue a standard license is $960 to $1,060. The standard salary for a Police Constable, who would process the application, is $56,219.00, or $27.03 per hour. That means it would take the Constable, assuming the lower $960 cost, 35 hours and 30 minutes to complete the process for one license application.

2.       Even if the work was done by a higher-paid staffer, such as an Arms Officer (which is unusual), that would still equate to 27 hours, 30 minutes of time on the maximum $30.13/hr salary.

3.       It could be argued the exceptional cost is to cover sundries like operating expenses. It takes (generously) 8 hours for Police to process a license applicant. One hour each to interview the applicant and the referees, making a total of 3 hours with perhaps two hours travelling time, and the rest to write up any report needed. At $27.03 per hour for a constable and 8 hours expended, that totals $216.24.

4.       Using the lower $960 cost again, that leaves a residue of $743.76 to cover any sundries (operating expenses, wage and cost increases, non-salary labour costs, overheads, depreciation), though the Police have not explained or justified what these may be.

5.       At 24,000 renewals a year or 2,000 a month, then assuming only constables process the renewals, 2000 x 35.5 hours equals 71,000 hours of Police time a month. If the constable works a standard 40-hour week, this requires 444 constables a week to process those renewals that month.

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3 Responses to Minister should audit firearms license ‘cost recovery’ proposed by Police

  1. Dr. Charlie Baycroft says:

    The legal principle that a person is presumed to be innocent in the abscence of evidence and proof of guilt is no more.
    A person’s right to be presumed innocent and not required to incriminate themself is also gone.
    The right to own and use our personal property, without harming other people or their property, has also been taken from us all.
    As some people in our current government have stated, the basic principles of Democracy no longer apply in New Zealand.

    If a person applies for a firearms license, it ought to be granted unless there is sufficient evidence to justify denying it by a jury of that person’s peers.

    While it might be acceptable to have someone assess the applicant’s competence and understanding of firearms safety (for their benefit as well as others), having to convince a government employee that we “fit and proper” people is not necessarily just.

    A person who assesses our character and mental status ought to have proper medical qualifications, certification and also impartiality. With respect to government employees, they do not have these qualifications and are not impartial.
    They are being required to do things that they are not able to do.

    In fact, with referrence to studies in Psychiatry, even the shrinks have a limited ability to accurately assess one’s character and risk of anti-social behaviour unless they base their opinion on evidence in a person’s criminal records.

    Many convicted criminals who have been fully assessed and allowed to return to society continue to commit violent crimes against other people because it is extremely difficult for “the experts” to predict what they are likely to do or not do.

    It might well be that Tarrant could still have been granted a firearms license even if assessed by an arms officer and a Psychiatrist.
    Were his criminal records ever accessed and assessed for evidence of violent behaviour? Appearently not.

    Having had visits from nice arms officers who interviewed me, my family members and my friends to decide if I was “fit and proper”, I think we both knew we were playing a game in which he was fishing and I was the fish.
    That nice arms officer was asking questions that might be self-incriminating if I did not answer them correctly.
    The questions were the bait that hid a hook.
    There was an assumption that I had to prove that I was “fit and proper” in the abscence of any factual evidence that I was not.
    I did not mind complying because I already know that I have no desire or motivation to harm myself or other people and can truthfully anwer the questions without falsely incriminating myself.

    The nice arms officers obviously knew that I had never commited any criminal offences that would justify labelling me as dangerous to myself and/or other people because, If I had, my firearms license and firearms would have been taken from me as a consequence of my bad behaviour.

    But he still had to do the fishing that he was paid to do and I had to be the fish that was avoiding being hooked.

    The game is now being rigged so that the “fishers” have more advantages and the “fish” have less. The fish are also being required to pay for the fishing expeditions in which they have to prove their innocence in the abscence of any factual evidence of guilt.

    Responsible people who would like to comply and have legal permission to own and use firearms safely will realize that they are the fish in a crooked game and many will decide to stop playing and paying because the game is not fair or reasonable.

    We ought to be asking how and why anyone beleives that firearms regulations that do not treat citizens faily and reasonable can be assumed to improve public safety?

    It would be much more logical and beneficial to use our public resources (taxpayers money and government employees) to deal with the minority of people who do not accept their social obligation, to respect the rights of other people and not commit violent offences against them or their property.

    It would be much more just and rational to judge people on the basis of valid evidence of what they have actually done instead of the biased opinions of people that feel entitled to assume what they might do but have not done.

    Fair and reasonable firearms regulations that PROMOTE the safe and competent ownership and use of firearms by responsible, law abiding people would be accepted and complied with willingly.

    A crooked system in which responsible, law abiding people are assumed to be dangerous to themselves and/or others and are required to prove their innocence in the abscense of evidence of guilt is a criminal violation of Natural Law, Natural Rights and Liberal Democracy, which will not improve public safety.

    As is often the case, people with good intentions often do things that are wrong.

  2. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Fellow sportspeople,
    Keep your eye always on the long game,which is to disarm the public.
    Running up the fees is just one way to eliminate some owners. Perfectly aimed at those providing game meat for their families who by extension are not paying GST at the supermarket for meat.
    may I repeat, the result goal is to remove firearms from private ownership.

  3. Stewart Hydes says:

    The Police Minister should not just audit the proposed fee increases .. she should abandon the proposed magnitude of them.
    The driver licensing system is not for the benefit of the individual, it is for the benefit of society.
    Society benefits from people receiving the knowledge, training, and skill necessary to obtain a Driver License.
    The firearms licensing system is similar. It is NOT primarily for the benefit of the individual, it is for the benefit of society.
    If Driver Licenses became too expensive, then more people would simply drive without them.
    That does nothing to improve the safety of our roads .. quite the opposite, in fact.
    There are already plenty of people driving without a Licence .. just as there are currently a fast-growing number of people who drive their vehicles unregistered, unwarranted, and uninsured.
    In a cost of living crisis in particular, people who do not have much money will cut corners where they can.
    This seems both logical, and reasonable.
    Why would a person want to pay a lot of money for something that is not really for their individual benefit?
    The people who seem most unable to understand this .. are politicians, bureaucrats, and others who are advising the government to accommodate increasing firearms licensing fees.
    It would seem that if you are quite stupid, and out of touch with the real world .. then you should perhaps consider becoming one of these people.
    You would be able to earn yourself a very good salary .. as well as keep yourself in excellent company.

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