Despite New Zealand’s reputation for tight gun regulation, one anti-gun lobbyist says we are still leaving ourselves exposed.
Professor Kevin Clements, director of the National Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University, says current laws around gun registration are loose and leave room for abuse.
“The registered arms owners [might have] a large amount of weapons but we don’t know how many, where they are, what sort they are and whether they might fall into someone else’s hands,” he says.
The recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has reignited the debate on gun regulation in the United States, and around the world.
It is estimated there are up to 1.5 million firearms currently in New Zealand and police say there are 234,006 registered owners.
According to a 2007 survey, New Zealand has the 22nd highest number of firearm owners in the world.
While gun owners themselves must be registered there is no general requirement for guns, says Mr Clement.
However, owners of pistols, restricted weapons or military-style semi-automatic firearms must qualify for an endorsement on their licence, part of which requires details of the weapon being recorded against the licence.
But Mr Clements says it is important that all weapons are registered.
“We need a complete inventory of the total number of weapons available in New Zealand, and we need to have these tagged to particular individuals, so we know who’s got what.”
Pro-gun supporters have previously criticised gun registration laws as costly and impractical.