Public Opinion: Firearm crime up and registry won’t reduce it

Council of Licensed Firearm Owners – Press release

A new survey has revealed that the public are noticing more firearm crime, but believe the firearm registry won’t reduce it, gravely weakening claims that the public support a registry. 

A Clarity Insight poll run at the end of August for COLFO (Council of Licensed Firearm Owners), reveals that two thirds of the public believe the registry will make no discernible difference to the level of firearm crime.

Eighty percent of the public believe New Zealand is less safe than 2019, and 83% have noticed an increase in gun crime since then. That was the year Labour banned some types of firearms, conducted a buy-back, and announced a raft of controls on licensed firearm owners – moves it claimed would make people safer.

Recently the Government and others have claimed public support for a registry, but COLFO says the support is weak and illusory. When New Zealanders were asked whether they thought a registry would work, the answer was clear: no.


Hugh Devereaux-Mack – Police and government weaving an optical illusion.

This counters the simple picture suggested by a Horizon survey commissioned by Gun Control NZ, which asked people if they supported or opposed a registry, and a 1News poll that asked people if they would ‘keep or abolish’ the registry.  

When asked if they feel more or less safe, the majority say they feel less safe – which is consistent with other surveys. This contrasts with the Horizon poll which found a slim majority felt safer following the firearm law changes. Whether this is accurate or not, people feel less safe overall.

The Clarity Insight poll underscored the public attitude toward a registry when it asked them to compare it with alternative solutions. The registry ranked 5th, alongside ‘more police’ and ‘improved vetting of licensed firearm owners’. Twice as many people preferred to have more search and seizures of firearms from gangs, and stronger penalties for illegal use of firearms.

COLFO spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said the survey was a corrective to the false impression of public support for a registry.

“It’s not support – it’s desperation. It is an optical illusion caused by absence of other options. It is the result of public desire for something to be done to combat firearm crime.”

He said the previous surveys had enticed policymakers into supporting the registry on the basis of public support, despite evidence and overseas experience that showed registries failed to work.

“Registries fail in the real world, so activists had to convince politicians by making simplistic claims of public support. 

“Now that the public sentiment is correctly understood, we remind policy-makers that the real evidence is that the registry will cost an immense amount of money and will not decrease use of firearms to commit crimes.

“This must be the last time such hyped and mistargeted firearm policies are tried. When the registry fails, it will prove that more laws for licensed firearm owners is not the solution to gun crime,” Devereux-Mack said.


The full survey report is available here.

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


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8 Responses to Public Opinion: Firearm crime up and registry won’t reduce it

  1. Tony Orman says:

    Canada tried it and gave up, -after spending a massive amount of public’s money – discovering like several other nations that attempting to identify every gun in the country is an expensive and ultimately unproductive exercise. Criminals, of course, don’t register their guns.

  2. Jack Tuhawaiki says:

    Canada’s experience suggests focusing on the firearm instead of the person is an expensive and ultimately fruitless endeavour. Yes, other countries have tried it such as England and Germany and a firearm register didn’t work. As the adage says, “Firearms don’t kill people. People kill people.”
    That is shown I understand, by the fact that firearms are a small percentage of weapons/method used in homicides.

  3. Roger Dewhurst says:

    Of course a gun registry will not work. Pigs will fly before the mob members register their guns even if allowed to. Most have convictions for crimes which preclude them from possessing firearms. Random total turnover of gang houses might net some of the illegal guns but not all. But that would be a start.

  4. Chaz Forsyth says:

    New Zealand chose to walk away from registering the firearm in 1983 for the right reasons, it was about as useful for preventing offending as motor vehicle registration was for reducing driving offences. (As a taxation measure it is excellent!)

    With 17% of homicides involving firearms (using 2015 to 2022 police data), and considerably more by those using cutting or stabbing instruments, there is a better argument (if registration was of any value) for registering knives, than firearms…especially as homicide rates by cutting or stabbing instruments show an increasing trend over time. Notably, the increased rate for firearms in fiscal hear 2022 points to the greater publicity accorded firearm misuse than for other weapons.

    Chaz Forsyth

  5. Honest Dave says:


  6. Justice Will B. Dunn. says:

    The Gun Registry idea reads like a bad line from Yes Minister “Something must be done, the registry is something, therefore it must be done”. Nought but a face saving boondoggle for police ineptitude in ever letting the Aussie terrorist get a firearms licence in the first place. Heads should have rolled for that.

  7. Wayne (Horse) Mackie says:

    After the Ch-Ch incident Ardern turned on the FLO community banning so called Semi auto’s, and that included our firearms that were inherited by our forbearers because the magazine capacity did not meet their specifications. We did not fail in our obligations as being lawful abiding FLO, but it was the NZ Police that failed in their policy of not following their own fit and proper scrutineer. Since then, firearms offences have trebled.
    I personally think that most NZ LFO have no trust left in the Govt. or the NZ police to administer a Firearms registry. Many other countries have tried to administer a Firearms registry and all have failed because of costs and no compliance. NZ citizens and LFO have lost all trust in the NZ government and the NZ Police.

  8. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    Those people who say the registry will make us all safer are likely to be those who have learned all they know about firearms and the shooting sports from Hollywood movies.

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