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Fair and Reasonable Update: What you helped achieve this year

By Michael Dowling, COLFO

We’ve now had the chance to properly go through the Royal Commission report into the Christchurch Attack. Nothing has detracted from our initial reaction: had the Police followed the law and best practise the terrorist would never have got a firearms licence in the first place.


Most of the law changes that have been made have done little to make us safer, and events should not have been used to slander good, law-abiding, licenced firearms owners. I’ve been telling media this since the Report was released, and the message is starting to get out there.


Below are some notes that were sent around the steering group of COLFO – it reviews some of the impact we had, and some of the work made possible by you, and the thousands of other LFOs who make out work possible.


Before I sign off the year, a quick reminder to please complete our annual Trust and Confidence Survey – which we use benchmark LFO’s trust in the Police and firearms regulation.


Click here to take 3-minute survey.


Thank you for your support in 2020 - looking forward to working with you in 2021 to stand up for licenced firearms owners and our way of life.


Thank you for your support.

Michael Dowling


Council of Licenced Firearms Owners

(on behalf of the Fair and Reasonable Campaign)


Keep up with Fair and Reasonable on Facebook.




COLFO made a substantive submission to the Royal Commission which can be read here. We facilitated 760 licensed firearm owners to make submissions via the Fair and Reasonable online tool.


The Report noted that this was approximately three-quarters of the total submissions received [p 26]. The Report also stated that most of these had unique content and this content (on how LFOs got their licence etc) is quoted throughout the Report.



Unfortunately, as the Commission noted multiple times in the Report, they were constrained in their investigation by the limited Terms of Reference. This meant they could not look at many of the key issues raised.


It could be argued that the subsequent changes to the Arms Act would not have prevented the Christchurch attack, we believe the way the changes have been implemented firearms have been driven into the Grey market that will mean the risk remains greater in the future.


The Report found that there were failures in how the Police undertook the licensing procedures. Not only were the Police guidelines to determine ‘Fit and Proper’ insufficient but the training provided to individual officers also meant that Tarrant was able to get a licence.


The Fit and Proper test introduced in the Arms Legislation Act, which had already existed in regulation and policy, introduces a new criterion that will preclude anyone that has “shown patterns of behaviour demonstrating a tendency to exhibit, encourage or promote violence, hatred, or extremism”. This is a question that Police should have been asking anyway and didn’t require a change to the law.


“There is nothing in the Report that justifies the other changes the Government has made like making possession of ammunition an offence or regulating clubs and ranges.”


The Report states that accessibility of semi-automatics and the loophole that Police had failed to address (despite various people raising it) on large magazines meant that Tarrant was able to purchase these firearms.


It has been claimed by certain groups that COLFO opposed changes in 2011, however COLFO raised issue with the pistol grip changes at that time and our concerns and counterpoint the look and style of the firearm was not the risk factor, has shown to be true. There was no other discussion on any of the other firearms or parts that the Government has banned.


The Report does mention that Police had no way of knowing the number of firearms Tarrant possessed but does not state that had they known how it would have prevented Tarrant acting the way he did.


The Report also says that Tarrant sought medical attention for a firearms injury in the period before the attack but doesn’t say what the Police would have done if they had been alerted by his doctor to this.


The only mention of ammunition is to state that Tarrant used ammunition that could be used in a standard firearm, therefore (as Justice Cooke stated in our litigation against the Minister of Police) there is no link between what they then made ‘prohibited ammunition’. There is nothing in the Report that justifies the other changes the Government has made like making possession of ammunition an offence or regulating clubs and ranges.



The Government has stated that they accept all 44 recommendations of the Report and are taking time to work through them. This includes the recommendations to make significant changes to how the licensing system is administered. The Report stated that these changes should be made by the “New Zealand Police (or other relevant entity)”.


We’ll be pushing for the “other relevant entity”. It is clear that Police can’t be trusted to prioritise and administer the Arms Act and we have long called for an independent authority to do so.


“...Police actually took resources that were meant for the arms administration and used them for other things. We are worried that this will be used as an excuse to increase fees and costs bourn by licenced firearms owners.”


The Report stated that one of the key reasons for the failure in administration was a lack of resourcing. As we highlighted in our submission (and was repeated in the Report), Police actually took resources that were meant for the arms administration and used them for other things. We are worried that this will be used as an excuse to increase fees and costs bourn by licenced firearms owners.


We know that in the coming weeks the next tranche of commencement of the Arms Legislation Act comes in to force and we expect Police to release new regulations (flowing from the Act) and are likely to announce the next buyback.


There is no doubt that Police will try and make it look like this action is in some way linked to the Report - so we’ll keep shining the light of transparency on these matters and holding those in power to account.


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