Election 2023: ACT Party, Police Association go at it over policy David Seymour says is 'bottom line'

The ACT Party has told Newshub that scrapping the gun register is a bottom line for negotiations to form a Government with National.

The Police Association has slammed the policy, saying it's a grab for votes at the expense of New Zealanders' safety.

A gun might be locked and loaded, but at the moment in New Zealand, it's not registered because guns don't have to be - yet.

"We've got well over a million firearms in NZ and we have no idea where they are, who has them or if they're secure," said Police Association president Chris Cahill.

On June 24, the firearms registry will go live and owners will have five years to register their guns. It will track licenses, and the sales of firearms, parts and ammunition.

The $208 million registry was one of the recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Mosque attacks.

"The majority of criminals get their weapons through straw buying which is where a legitimate firearms owner buys a weapon and then onsells or supplies it to a criminal," said Cahill.

But if ACT leader David Seymour gets his way the register would go in the shredder.

"$200 million to not solve a single crime is a bad use of resources," Seymour said. 

Cahill said of ACT's policy: "It's really just a grab for votes at the expense of New Zealanders, 100 percent."

The Police Association is fuming.

"The reality is you're going to get votes but the expense is the dairy owner who gets shot in a robbery or the young child who is killed when their house is shot up by gang members because they mistook the address or the police officer like Matthew Hunt who is gunned down in the streets."

Seymour said those votes "are nothing to do with the death of Matthew Hunt".

Cahill said: "He's being naive if he thinks this won't make a change."

Seymour said: "I think it's frankly despicable that Chris Cahill as the representative of police is  putting this kind of politicised and emotional rhetoric ahead of the simple question - will this policy work?"

Seymour told Newshub scrapping the registry is a bottom line for going into Government with National.

"I would say it's a bottom line if that's your idea of politics," he said.

The police union said National's Christopher Luxon needs to rule it out.

"I want him to be unequivocal, that it's a bottom line for him, the gun register will remain in place," Cahill said.

 uxon said: "Our view is that the gun register is implemented and is essentially happening and it's important that we make it work well for legal gun owners and it's not too onerous."

ACT promising to scrap the registry while National's promising to keep it are incompatible promises. Someone is going to have to back down.