The new Government is set to review the seven-month-old Firearms Registry as the authority that manages it marks a milestone of registering more than 100,000 guns.
Around 10% of licensed gun holders have registered thus far, with the system not becoming compulsory until 2028.
The newly established regulator in charge of managing the registry, the Firearms Safety Authority, suggested there had been a good uptake of the new system.
Authority director Angela Brazier said the registry was about preventing firearms from getting into the wrong hands.
“Digitising the licensing system enhances our ability to detect unlawful and criminal activity,” she said in a media release.
“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.”
“When fully rolled out, the registry will provide a picture of all lawfully held firearms and arms items in New Zealand.
“This will give greater transparency when firearms are changing hands and ultimately make the availability of firearms to the black market more difficult.”
However, many gun owners remained sceptical about the registry.
Deerstalkers Association chief executive Gwyn Thurlow told 1News: “We’re opposed to it because it’s making licensed lawful firearms owners do administrative steps whereas police should be focussed on gangs, criminals, and unlawful firearms use.”
The registry was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attacks.
It gives gun owners five years to register unless they have an “activating circumstance”, such as renewing a gun licence or buying or selling a firearm.
The registry is under scrutiny by the new Government, which has agreed to a review as part of National and ACT’s coalition deal.
ACT firearms policy spokesperson Nicole McKee said the registry wouldn’t address non-compliance with existing firearm laws.
Her party has previously vowed to repeal the registry.
“At the end of the day, everyone who has a firearms licence has been judged to be fit and proper people. But those that will not enter the registry are the gang members that have firearms and the registry itself is not going to address that issue,” she said.
“If the registry does not meet its objective of keeping the public safe, we need to find other alternatives that will.”
McKee is also an Associate Justice Minister, responsible for firearms.
However, gun control supporters say the registry is vital and aligns Aotearoa with Australia — which implemented a similar system after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
Gun Control New Zealand co-founder Nik Green said the system had proven itself effective across the ditch.
“One way guns get into the wrong hands is they go missing or get stolen,” he told 1News.
“When the registry was brought in in Australia, reports of guns going missing or thefts fell by 85% because people were accountable for every single gun they had.”