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Trade Me wants access to gun register

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/08/2016

Trade Me wants to be able to access the national firearms licence register to bolster its security checks around the sale of guns.

The online auction website says its restrictions and checks on who can buy and sell guns already go "over and above" the legal requirements, but at the moment it isn't able to verify licence details against the licence register, which is held by police.

Trade Me's head of legal and regulatory Marissa Flowerday told MPs on parliament's law and order select committee that before someone bids or asks a question on a gun auction, they must enter their firearms licence number.

But, at the moment, that system relies on honesty.

"Because there isn't a way of verifying that that firearms licence is valid, we'd like to bolster our security measures further by having real-time access to the police database of the firearms register," Ms Flowerday said.

Gaining access to a government-run database isn't unprecedented, with Ms Flowerday citing the NZ Transport Agency's driver check service, which allows the status of driver licences to be queried by authorised users, such as employers.

Ms Flowerday said Trade Me has a good relationship with police and there would be little cost or difficulty involved in setting up the system, given the licence register already exists.

There have already been talks between Trade Me and police on this and Trade Me's head of trust and security Jon Duffy said it could be in place by the end of 2016.

A Police spokesperson said giving more information to companies such as Trade Me could potentially strengthen controls on guns.

Police were currently reviewing firearms management rules, including the licensing system, she said.

Trade Me is also calling for firearm serial numbers to be recorded at sale and tagged against the licensed owner.

This would restrict the flow of firearms to people without a licence and allow police to accurately ascertain the number of guns in circulation and what type of guns people own, Ms Flowerday said.

About 8000 rifles and shotguns are sold on Trade Me each year.

The law and order committee is holding an inquiry into the issues around the illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand and it's currently hearing submissions from the public and others on that.

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