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Number of firearms seized by police has risen steadily over last decade

The number of firearms seized by police has risen steadily over the last decade, according to figures obtained by 1 NEWS.

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1 NEWS can reveal 1866 guns were confiscated by police last year. Source: 1 NEWS

Annual seizure statistics show police confiscated 1866 firearms last year - more than double the 864 firearms taken out of circulation 10 years ago.

The Police Association’s Chris Cahill said the numbers were "very disappointing but unfortunately not surprising".

"That really reflects the availability of them, the willingness of criminals to carry them and unfortunately, more often than ever now, using them," he told 1 NEWS.

It also includes more willingness to use firearms against police, with the most recent being the death of Constable Matthew Hunt in Auckland in June.

Police say they’ve increased the number of targeted stings being carried out.

Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny says that last year, the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) saw the largest number of deployments it's had in the last 14 years.

Two-thirds of the deployments went to “pre-planned activity”.

The most common firearm seized is a full length rifle. However, the number of sawn-off shotguns has increased more than eightfold at 860 per cent.

“The smaller or more cutdown it is, the easier it is to conceal, to hold and to move,” Penny says.

Last year’s buyback scheme, introduced soon after the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attacks, saw 60,000 guns taken out of circulation and cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

But police are still seizing hundreds of weapons, with the Bay of Plenty becoming a hotspot among warring gangs.

“They can access them via burglary, they can access them by having them illegally imported, but there's also a pool of firearms that sit in that black market that's constantly being cycled around,” Council of Licensed Firearms Owners chair Michael Dowling says.

Police say last year, officers saw or seized firearms on around 3000 different jobs - the equivalent of around eight times a day.

“Unfortunately, they're getting more serious,” Cahill says.

“We’ve had the tragic death of Matthew Hunt recently but since then we've had multiple incidents. Just last week, we saw a police car shot up in Whangārei.”