“A backlog of 9800 firearms licensing applications and renewals is unacceptable but was foreseeable from a Government that rushed firearms reform legislation against advice from those who knew the firearms sector best,” says ACT Firearms Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“We are just weeks away from the start of the Roar and the gamebird season and thousands of New Zealanders are worried about whether they’ll be licensed to participate.

“Gamebird licenses go on sale tomorrow.

“Many people missed out on hunting deer during the Roar last year because of the COVID-19 lockdown and opening day of the duck season was delayed also.

“This is an issue that affects a sizable proportion of around 190,000 hunters, and will continue to do so as licenses expire and new people seek to join New Zealand’s long tradition of hunting to feed their families, control pests and improve their mental health spending time in the outdoors.

“When I asked the Police Commissioner about this at the Police annual review in Parliament recently he said frontline specialist staff had been allocated to try and bring the backlog under control.

“But the warnings that this backlog was developing have been coming into Police for a year.

“Now the delays are out of control and the Police are going to need to throw considerable resource at the problem.

“The real answer, once and if the backlog is ever cleared, is the Government making good on its promise last year to establish a new firearms administration authority.

“Then Police Minister Stuart Nash said in June 2020 that the Government would ‘establish an independent entity to take over firearms licensing and administration.’

“This is a task the Police can’t manage and shouldn’t have – independent administration of firearms is long overdue.”