Although over 100,000 firearms have been recorded into the new online firearms registry over the past seven months, local observers reckon Wairarapa firearms owners aren’t jumping the gun to load their details up just yet.
A police spokesperson said that “licenced firearms owners across the country have responded well to the registry” and that Wellington [which includes Wairarapa] firearms owners have registered 7069 firearms as of last week.
The spokesperson said a breakdown of people registered in Wairarapa isn’t currently available as the data is only kept by the police district at this stage.
Eketāhuna firearms owners are included in the central police district, which is reported to be one of the most responsive with 12,119 firearms registered.
So far, Canterbury is the area nationwide with the highest number of firearms registered at 14,289.
Federated Farmers Wairarapa president David Hayes said that while his organisation is “in total support of the intention of the Arms Amendment Regulations to try and stop firearms falling into the hands of criminals”, they are only “cautiously supportive” of the register.
“Time will tell whether the register and the new regulations are effective in achieving this,” Hayes said.
“We have said strongly that tight security around firearms information and addresses held by the Firearms Safety Authority is absolutely crucial, and the Authority has outlined to us the series of safeguards in place to keep those details secure and private.”
Hayes pointed out that anyone who held a firearms licence before June 24 last year has until August 31, 2028 to register their firearms.
Registration is required if there is an “activating circumstance” [they sell or buy a firearm, or there’s a change to their licence details].
Firearms Safety Authority executive director Angela Brazier is urging all firearms licence holders to register their guns.
“Digitising the licencing system enhances our ability to detect unlawful and criminal activity,” she said.
“Along with preventing the sale and purchase of stolen firearms, the registry provides a better way for police to trace where firearms used by criminals have come from.”
Asked about concerns raised regarding system security, Brazier said privacy has been a “key element of the design and development of the registry system”.
“We have implemented a range of security controls to help protect the confidentiality and integrity of the information held … In fact, we have met or exceeded government communication security standards,” Brazier said.
“These are the same security experts that do assessments of New Zealand banks, telecommunication providers, government departments, and insurance companies.”
Wairarapa Pistol and Shooting Sports Club secretary Rhys Richards are sceptical that many local gun owners have already pulled the trigger on registering their information.
He said that he believed most Wairarapa registrations will be from people either moving house, or buying or selling firearms, and so were required to register.
“Most members to my knowledge are just not buying or selling,” Richards said.
“They’re sitting back on their firearms at the moment and waiting for the registry to be disbanded.”
Citing the expense of registering and doubtful about its effectiveness at preventing gun-related crime, Richards said he doesn’t think the registry will last long.
“Many people will be waiting to see what the coalition government does,” said Richards, who is also critical of the user-friendliness of the register’s online interface.
“It’s a bit of a hassle especially when you look at the age demographic of most firearms owners who are over 60 years old.
“If it’s complicated for me – someone who works in an IT environment – then it’ll be complicated for them.”