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Research Results

Large majority support gun registry

8 Aug 23

Large majority support gun registry

A large and broad-based majority of New Zealanders support a gun registry, according to survey research by Horizon, released by Gun Control NZ.

71% of adults in New Zealand support the gun registry with only 14% opposed. There is majority support from voters for all main parties, including 53% of those intending to vote for ACT (which wants to repeal and replace current policy).

In addition, almost two-thirds of voters believe that a political party supporting the registry has stronger law and order policies. 


Those answering, survey respondents were given the following information on gun ownership, support or opposition to the new registry, if they felt more or less safe as a result of the registry and other firearms control policies, and whether political parties supporting or opposing the registry were weaker or stronger on law and order.

Firearms owners already have to be licensed. Since June this year the Government has also introduced a firearms registry.


Most firearms owners could have up to five years to record all the firearms and other relevant arms items in their possession into the registry.


However, some licence holders would need to provide information for the registry in a shorter timeframe. If they buy a firearm, they need to register that and other firearms within 30 days.


The government argues the registry will give licence holders more confidence when buying or selling firearms as it will let them know if they are dealing with a current licence holder and if the firearm they are looking to buy has been reported stolen.


In New Zealand, around 249,000 licensed shooters own an estimated 1.2-1.7 million guns. The number of guns in New Zealand is not known because until now the firearms have not had to be registered. It is estimated there is at least one gun in 17 of every 100 households.


On average, one person in New Zealand dies by gunshot every 7 days. Of these, 80% are suicides, 13% percent are homicides, 5% are accidents.


Arguments for registering each firearm

The Police Association argues most illegal firearms come from licensed firearms owners - either stolen from poorly secured homes or vehicles, or more often through the practice of straw-purchasing in which a licensed owner on-sells firearms to unlicensed buyers. Often these guns end up in the hands of gang members.

Others argue gun registries overseas have led to drops in gun deaths and crime.


Against a registry

The ACT party says its priority is to repeal the Arms Legislation Act introduced in 2020 (banning most automatic weapons) and the gun registry. It would then set about making “the world’s best firearm laws that balance public safety, firearms control, and freedom”.


The National Party says it  supports the gun registry but, if in Government, would assess whether it was worth the required investment, sufficiently protected owners’ private information and was effective in limiting illegal guns in the community.”

Main survey findings

Overall, there is strong support for a gun registry.

  • 71% support (strongly support/support) a registry – this is the equivalent of 2,809,000 adults
    • 53% of gun owners support a registry - 205,000 gun owners
  • 14% of New Zealand adults oppose a registry – 555,000 adults
    • 22% of gun owners oppose a registry – 86,000 gun owners.

Green and Labour Party voters are the biggest supporters of a gun register.

35% of 2020 ACT voters and 33% of those who intend to vote ACT oppose a register. 21% of National Party voters also oppose a register.

Feeling safer or less safe?

Respondents were asked whether they felt safer or less safe now most semi-automatic weapons have been banned and all firearms will have to be registered.

  • 53% said they felt saferthis is the equivalent of 2,107,000 adults
    • 34% of gun owners said they felt safer133,000 gun owners
  • 12% said they felt less safe – 492,000 adults
    • 26% of gun owners said they felt less safe – 99,000 gun owners

Stronger or weaker law and order policy?

Respondents were asked whether they think a political party which supports registering all firearms has stronger or weaker law and order policy.

  • 64% said a political party supporting a registry has a stronger policy – 2,523,000 adults
    • 40% of gun owners said a political party supporting a registry has a stronger policy – 157,000 gun owners
  • 12% said a political party not supporting a registry has a weaker policy – 587,000 adults
    • 26% of gun owners said a political party not supporting a registry has a weaker policy – 100,000 gun owners

Among intending voters 72% of Green and 75% of Labour voters feel a political party has a stronger law and order policy if it supports a firearms register.

The survey of 1,081 adults in New Zealand was conducted from 19 to 24 July 2023.

The total sample is weighted on age, gender, personal income, ethnicity, region and 2020 party vote to match the adult population.

The maximum predicted margin of error at a 95% confidence level is +/-3%.

Full report, comments and news coverage

Gun Control NZ has commented on and released the full report and accompanying data tables.

The Herald reports the survey results and that ACT is doubling down on its plans to repeal the new registry and firearms control laws.

For information on researching with Horizon, please contact:

Graeme Colman, Principal, Horizon Research, e-mail,nz, telephone +64 21 848 576.