National and Act hold conflicting views on the soon-to-be-introduced firearms registry; the former cautiously supports it, while the latter is promising to repeal it.
It comes as Police Association president Chris Cahill accuses Act of “hypocrisy” in making “false or misleading” comments concerning the registry, which will soon require firearms owners to register their weapons with police.
Last week, Act announced that if in Government, it would repeal the $208 million registry that came into force on June 24, managed by the police’s Firearms Safety Authority.
Act’s firearms spokeswoman Nicole McKee claimed it would not change the number of illegal guns in the community.
“Like the gun buyback, responsible firearm owners will be forced to comply while gang members carry on their merry way and ignore it.”
However, Cahill said this view was completely wrong.
“The reasons Act puts forward to oppose a registry have been discredited many times and their repeat of these false or misleading accusations does them no credit,” he said.
“It is also extremely disingenuous of Act to trot out the same old nonsense that the registry will not succeed because ‘gang members will carry on their merry way and ignore it’.
“The evidence is now clear that most of these illegal firearms come from licensed firearms owners - either stolen from poorly secured homes or vehicles, or more often through the practice of straw-purchasing in which a licensed owner on-sells firearms to unlicensed buyers.
“Too often they end up in the hands of gang members.”
National leader Christopher Luxon, in Auckland today delivering a pre-Budget speech, was asked whether his party supported the registry but did not give a clear answer.
National’s police spokesman Mark Mitchell told the Herald the party did support the registry but if in Government, would assess whether it was worth the required investment, sufficiently protected owners’ private information and was effective in limiting illegal guns in the community.
He recalled a presentation by police to the Justice Select Committee, of which he and McKee are members, that referenced the risk of firearms being passed on from their original owners to people without licences.
Mitchell wouldn’t comment on Act’s pledge to repeal the registry, nor how the issue would be debated if National and Act formed a government after the election.
“Act can speak to their own policies,” Mitchell said.
“[Discussions after the election are] going to be for the respective leadership teams, it’s purely a hypothetical at the moment.”
Act leader David Seymour, also in Auckland today delivering his party’s alternative budget ahead of the Government’s budget on Thursday, said he was committed to repealing the registry and claimed National’s position wasn’t well-developed.
“That’s clearly Act’s position, it sounds like [National] hasn’t thought it through.”
Police Minister Ginny Andersen said the registry was a “vital tool” to restrict the spread of illegal firearms, stating her complete agreement with Cahill on the matter.
Police Firearms Safety Authority executive director Angela Brazier said most firearms owners would have up to five years to record all the firearms and other relevant arms items in their possession into the registry.
However, some licence holders would need to provide information for the registry in a shorter timeframe than five years, such as if they bought a firearm, they would need to register that and other firearms within 30 days.
“The registry will give licence holders more confidence when buying or selling firearms, as it will let them know if they are dealing with a current licence holder and if the firearm they are looking to buy has been reported stolen,” Brazier said.