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New Zealand’s Digital Registry for Firearms

New Zealand has launched its new digital Firearms Registry, an important milestone in the improvement of firearms safety and oversight in the country, according to Police Minister, Ginny Andersen.

As part of a government commitment made in 2019, nearly a quarter of a million firearms licence holders in the country will now be able to register their firearms and arms items in the Registry. Andersen noted, “Until now, there has been no complete picture of where all the lawfully held firearms in our community are, and no visibility of how firearms are moving around the community – when people are buying, selling, or passing firearms on to other people.”

The Registry will provide a clearer picture of firearms ownership in the country. This will help prevent firearms from being transferred to criminals. The Registry will enable users to be more confident when buying or selling firearms, as the system will alert them if they are dealing with a current licence holder and if the firearm has been reported stolen. There is no cost to enter their arms items in the Registry.

Licence holders will be required to record various details including the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. Additionally, licence holders will have an ongoing obligation to update the Registry whenever they engage in activities such as selling, purchasing, modifying, or reporting the theft or loss of their firearms. This continuous monitoring and reporting process will ensure accurate and up-to-date information.

In the country, individuals must be 16 or over to apply for a firearms licence. A licence is required to possess and use non-prohibited firearms, ammunition, and Specially Dangerous Airguns (PCPs) without supervision.

By actively participating and fulfilling their responsibility to complete the Registry, licence holders will make the country a safer place, the government stated. Licence holders have up to five years to complete the registration process.

Under certain circumstances, they will be required to provide information for the Firearms Registry within a shorter timeframe. For instance, if licence holders purchase a firearm, they will need to register the firearm within 30 days of the transaction.

Additionally, within the same timeframe, they must register all other arms items they possess that have not yet been registered.  First-time firearms licence applicants must attend and pass the Firearms Safety Course.

Andersen noted that the privacy of licence holders’ information is critical, and security has been a top priority for the government throughout the system’s development. The Registry has undergone multiple security assessments conducted by independent experts in the field of security. These experts have extensive experience assessing the security measures of various entities in New Zealand, including banks, telecommunication providers, government departments, and insurance companies.

A public consultation on the Arms Amendment Regulations was conducted late last year and the final Regulations were published in May this year. These Regulations clarified the guidelines and requirements for firearms license holders and dealers to provide information for the Registry and specified when and how the information is to be provided.

“Many people took the opportunity to provide feedback, and this helped us to fine-tune the Regulations,” Andersen said. Several changes were made to the original proposals to reduce the compliance burden on licence holders, while remaining true to the needs of a well-functioning Firearms Registry.

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