$139m gun buyback a disaster from start to finish

Thu, 07 May, 2020

“The Auditor-General has been unable to determine whether the Government’s $139 million gun buyback scheme has made New Zealanders any safer”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Today’s report, Implementing the firearms buy-back and amnesty scheme, has vindicated ACT’s long-standing position that the gun buyback scheme was completely misguided and would not make New Zealanders safer.

“Police have now paid out $104 million to collect 61,332 firearms out of a possible 240,000 now-prohibited firearms. Administering the scheme will cost $35 million, almost double what was budgeted. The extra money will come out of the budget for community policing.

“The Auditor-General was unable to determine if New Zealanders were any safer as a result of the Government’s gun buyback scheme:

'Importantly, neither the Police nor any other agency know how many prohibited firearms, magazines, and parts were in the community when the law was changed. Without this information, we do not yet know how effective the scheme was and whether implementing the scheme has delivered value for money. More work should be done to find out what level of compliance with the scheme has been achieved and the extent to which it has made New Zealanders safer.'

“Moreover, there were serious errors in Police’s E category register:

'Deficiencies in how the information was recorded in the past mean that the Police’s records of the numbers of firearms covered by an E endorsement are not certain, ranging from 13,175 to 15,037.'

“This means the information in the E category register was out by as much as 15 per cent. It raises serious questions about how useful the Government’s new $50 million gun register will be.

“ACT was the only political party to oppose the Arms Amendment Bill which set the framework for this scheme. We said at the time the gun buyback would not make New Zealanders safer. After a thorough investigation from the Auditor-General, that position has now been vindicated.

“The gun buyback was a disaster from start to finish. Administration cost twice as much as budgeted, and this came out of the budget for community policing. The Police found their records were incomplete and they didn’t even know how many firearms they had registered. More fundamentally, the whole policy was flawed because it sent an unknown number of firearms underground.

“The Government can limit the damage from its gun reform programme by dropping its plans for a gun register and waiting until the Royal Commission has reported before proceeding further with the second tranche of gun legislation.”