What happened when we removed lifetime licences from shooters?

Once upon a time New Zealand had a lifetime firearm licence system. We carefully vetted the person applying and then checked their storage security and that was that. Once approved they could purchase a basic rifle or shotgun and amuse themselves.

The nation enjoyed low gun crime and so the system was ?fixed? in 1992 to require a ten yearly renewal. Because, as you will understand, if shooters are going to turn mad, bad or sad they will do so in precisely ten yearly cycles.

This writer always maintained that there is no benefit to the renewal system for public safety. It just takes millions of dollars and thousands of hours away from productive policing.

The New Zealand Police have even admitted to us that the process achieves nothing. It IS the kind of thing that?sounds?good to a control freak.?They can use words like ?Monitoring?. Yet it actually achieves nothing.

Problem people simply come to the attention of the Police. Action is taken. Job done.

But we wanted the hard numbers and so asked Police: ?Is there any evidence to suggest there is a lower rate of firearm offending by holders of a NZ firearms license since the lifetime license was scrapped??

Further, we asked Police to provide the number of convictions for serious firearm offences by licence holders in the five years before and after the change. As our gun crime is consistently low, this is the best measure available.

Firstly, we were shocked to learn from their reply that New Zealand Police have never even checked to see whether the massive and expensive change that they wanted ever actually achieved anything. So they were unable to answer the first question.

This is the curse of firearm controls. Like an anaconda on a goat they only ever go in one direction ? tighter. You never get liberty returned. Hence no new control is ever measured for its effectiveness. It?s just on to the next one.

Secondly, let?s look at what all those millions achieved.

In the five years before the change 359 offenders committed 500 offences.

In the five years after the change 350 offenders committed 503 offences.

In other words ? almost identical results. So no benefit to the new renewal system at all. Our 250,000 licensed firearm owners just continued to be responsible. Except for the problem 0.00028%.

Now the hard question: will any future New Zealand government actually set aside emotion and really base our firearm regulations on facts and reality? Political extremists like the?Green Party want to shorten the period for renewals even more, to five years.

It should be noted that the official Green Party firearm policy for New Zealand thinks that we are in Canada. They literally don?t even know what country they are in. Despite many corrections, their demand to change the ?firearm acquisition certificate? remains on their website. Kiwis had to Google what it even was.

We don?t just need to return to the Lifetime Licence. We also need an end to the insulting random checks that owners of semi-automatic rifles, handguns and collectors’ arms currently endure.

I asked the Police how many of these checks have resulted in a conviction for a breach of the Arms Act. They could not provide a single record of this happening. Not one.

Again, the most senior of Police have admitted that the checks simply serve no purpose.

Again ? problem shooters exist. They come to the attention of the Police. But never through random checks or renewals of license.

The last nonsense we should address is the checks of recorded firearms. There has never been an audit of this system?s gross inaccuracy. Despite Police being aware of the issue. Don?t expect one either. Police have told the writer that they are simply too busy.

This does not prevent them forever trying to expand the register to include all firearms however. Just because they cannot keep track of a few thousand doesn?t mean that they can?t handle a million and a half. Apparently.

Even as I type, Police are pushing for an increase in licence fees to reflect the costs they claim to face. I know where a lot of savings can be made to prevent this. Call me, guys.


Mike Loder is a firearm control advocate who has researched international responses to the firearm safety issue over 25 years.