Gun registration almost inevitably leads to gun confiscations. But along the way, people on the gun owner registry can enjoy the added bonus of inevitable data breaches that expose their identities to the public including criminals who would like to steal their firearms.
This has happened (yet again) in New Zealand in recent days. Government bureaucrats in Kiwiland exposed the personal info of registered gun owners, supposedly by mistake.
Mistaken or not, the damage has been done. Given that gun control impacts the little (read: law-abiding) people most, it isn’t surprising that many of those who can afford to jump through all of the gun registry hoops are prominent residents.
And again, it’s happened before. In 2019, the government’s original firearm registration website exposed participants’ data, including their bank account information. Last year, bumbling police left behind the physical records of local registry participants during their move to a new facility.
From Reason Magazine . . .
After the 2019 mass shooting at a Christchurch mosque, the country enacted a series of reforms intended to prevent such tragedies in the future. Along with a ban on most semi-automatic firearms and a gun buyback that netted more than 50,000 weapons, one provision empowered New Zealand’s Firearms Safety Authority to “effectively regulate the legitimate possession and use of firearms.” In other words: a national “firearms registry” that will “link firearms to licence holders, so there is a clear picture of the legally held firearms in New Zealand and improved ability to trace firearms,” according to Executive Director Angela Brazier.
Last week, a joint email went out from the Firearms Safety Authority and the Auckland Central Police District to 147 registered gun owners, advising them that their addresses might need to be updated. Unfortunately, the emails were all listed in the CC field instead of the BCC field, which would be hidden. As a result, each recipient of the email not only saw every single other recipient’s email address but, in many cases, first and last names as well.
As The New Zealand Herald noted, “The visible addresses included various prominent Auckland residents, including lawyers, company directors, police officers and government officials.”
This is not the only, or even the most severe, breach of New Zealand gun owners’ data in recent memory. During the 2019 gun buyback, the government set up a website for gun owners to register their weapons for relinquishment. Police later admitted that visitors to the site could easily access other registrants’ personal information, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and bank account information. And in 2022, thieves stole as many as 400 gun owners’ records from an abandoned police precinct after police officials neglected to destroy the files before moving operations to a new building.
While it remains one of the holy grails of the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex, nothing good comes from gun registration schemes. Federal law bans it, though that hasn’t meant much to ATF and other federal agencies. That’s why we need to continue to fight the on measures such as “universal background checks” with every tool we have available.