Thousands of firearm licence applications pending with duck shooting season imminent

It's a big day for firearms owners tomorrow with the second round of the gun buy-back ending and duck shooting season getting underway.

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The backlog of firearms licence applications and renewals is at nearly 9000. Source: 1 NEWS

But hopes of taking part as a licenced firearms holder have been dashed for some.

Harry Gillespie submitted his firearms application months before the process was strengthened last November in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

That meant his application needed to be resubmitted as the new application process includes further requirements to determine if a person is fit and proper to own a firearm.

But the receipt showing he had paid for the original application and hard-copy items like his photo are still at his local police station, information he requires to resubmit the application.

“It's become a bit of a headache, it's starting to put me off a wee bit but I'm still gonna keep on going because I'd love to go out hunting by myself and have some independence,” Mr Gillespie said.

As of April 28, there were 8891 applications pending, including 5661 new licence applications and 3230 renewal applications.

The number of applications still awaiting an outcome after 12 months or longer was 1382 as of 14 April.

“Two or three mates of mine have tried to go for theirs and they've had the same thing, they've been held up.

“Other ones have just been put off it altogether because they know how hard of a process it is,” Mr Gillespie said.

The delays have stopped some hunters taking part in this year's deer hunting Roar too.

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association national president Craig Benbow is concerned the delays will “kill our sport".

“The renewals side of things seems overly complex and bureaucratic and we need to address that with the Police,” Mr Benbow said.

He said the new online submission form doesn’t work for hunters who live remotely, without reliable internet or a computer, and submitting the form manually is challenging.

“You'll make half a dozen trips to the police station to try and achieve this and struggle to find anybody at the location because they’re out doing their work.”

Police say the delays are “unacceptable” and have been caused by Covid-19 stopping in-person vetting being able to happen last year, people submitting incomplete application forms, the increased amount of information required to be processed and training the workforce to assess the new application process.

New Zealand Police Deputy Commissioner Jevon McSkimming said staff have doubled for this process in the last 18 months.

“People can help us by having their licence application in that four months prior to, having their referees lined up and prepared to get the questions answered and actually some rural communities are having them all in the house at one time so we can really get applications done fast,” he said.

Police are expecting a surge in the next 24 hours for compensation applications for the specialist gun buy-back round, with the buy-back becoming a three month amnesty after Saturday.

“We've planned for it and hopefully early next week if people are booking in those we'll have the capacity to accept those firearms,” McSkimming said.

“For any type of firearm that a person is not legally in possession of, the amnesty exists so they can get them in safely to New Zealand Police.”