New figures show police have been under-reporting the number of gun crimes in New Zealand.
They have identified flaws in their system suggesting less than five per cent of gun-related offences are being recorded in the police national database.
In their monthly magazine, police strategy group manager Catherine Petrey says, "Other than anecdotal reports from our frontline police, we don't know the level of risk to the public, let alone our frontline workers."
An internal investigation led by Ms Petrey exposed major failings in police reporting over a three-month period.
While there were 86 reports of crimes involving firearms, just five were recorded correctly.
In that time, police seized 29 firearms, but only recorded four cases properly. And in 22 cases, despite evidence of firearms being used in the crime, none were seized or officially recorded.
The Police Association said the issue of firearms in the hands of criminals as a "much greater risk than New Zealand realises".
"A number of the gun lobby think we've been crying wolf over the seriousness of the firearms issue in New Zealand and now we're vindicated... Showing that actually, it is a major problem," president Chris Cahill said.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says he was surprised by the findings.
"Making decisions, you've got to have complete data, and the less data you have, the less robust your decisions are going to be," Mr Nash said.
The police said they are working on a video and "communications to staff" to better educate them about how to record firearms in the system.