Christchurch mosque killer shouldn’t have been granted firearms license – report

There were obvious questions about how Christchurch mosque Brendon Tarrant was granted a firearms license that allowed him to buy firearms and ammunition. A report confirms that police made basic errors in their procedures.

Stuff: Mosque terrorist was wrongly granted firearms licence due to police mistakes, sources say

The March 15 terrorist was wrongly granted a firearms licence due to a string of police failures, sources have told Stuff.

The terrorist, who pleaded guilty to New Zealand’s worst mass shooting in March, was not properly inspected by police vetting staff when he applied for a firearms licence in 2017.

Stuff has been told that, among other errors, police failed to interview a family member as required, instead relying on two men who met the terrorist through an internet chatroom.

More than a year on from the March 15 terror attack, police insiders say the error was the product of a long neglected police firearms system that did not have the resources to properly handle applications.

Police have previously confirmed he applied for the licence in September 2017, was interviewed at his Somerville St, Dunedin home in October, and was granted the licence after the application was reviewed in November.

However, a police source has told Stuff the licence application should not have been granted, as police vetting staff failed to properly interview appropriate referees for the terrorist.

A licence applicant must provide two referees to be interviewed by police vetting staff, who are tasked with assessing the risk a person could pose if granted a firearms licence.

The terrorist’s licence was granted without a family member being interviewed, or even called, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Instead, the only referees interviewed by a police vetter were a Cambridge father and son. They knew the terrorist through an internet chatroom.

Police sources, who include both current and former staff who spoke to Stuff on the condition of anonymity, say the licence would not have been granted if proper procedure was followed.

Another arms officer is supposed to check the applicant has been properly vetted before issuing the licence, yet no red flag was raised about the terrorist’s incomplete file.

Instead, the only referees interviewed by a police vetter were a Cambridge father and son. They knew the terrorist through an internet chatroom.

Police sources, who include both current and former staff who spoke to Stuff on the condition of anonymity, say the licence would not have been granted if proper procedure was followed.

Another arms officer is supposed to check the applicant has been properly vetted before issuing the licence, yet no red flag was raised about the terrorist’s incomplete file.

I was granted  firearms license (renewal) by Dunedin police in July 2018. I was interviewed in my home for about an hour, and my firearm security was also checked. A family member was interviewed for about half an hour, and someone who has known me for thirty years was also interviewed via phone.

It seemed to be very through, almost intrusive, asking about my attitude the use of firearms, my mental health and whether I had  associations with gangs.

The process did take a couple of months.

Maybe the police were under less pressure when I was vetted, but the laxness in granting Tarrant a license is inexcusable.

Stuff understands New Zealand First and Labour have agreed to possibly removing the firearms licensing regime from police’s control, and establishing a separate independent firearms authority.

Police are also making changes to how they vet people applying for firearms licences, Stuff understands, with the pay and training of vetting staff being reviewed.

Of course the problem should be rectified, but it’s too late for all those murdered or affected by the murders in Christchurch.


RNZ – Gun laws: MPs continue debate on second phase of firearms reform

New Zealand firearm laws to be changed

The Christchurch mass killings have prompted promises from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that our gun laws will change. yesterday in a statement on the killings:

I’m advised that there were five guns used by the primary perpetrator. There were two semi-automatic weapons, and two shotguns. The offender was in possession of a gun licence.

I’m advised that this was acquired of November 2017.

A lever action firearm was also found.

While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the holding of this gun licence, and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now. Our gun laws will change.

There have been attempts to change our laws in 2005, 2012 and after an inquiry in 2017.

Now is the time for change.

It is ridiculous that military style semi-automatic weapons are readily available in New Zealand. On a gun selling site right now:

Some of those weapons are legitimate hunting and sporting and pest control firearms.

Some are obviously military style and serve no practical or useful purpose.

The Christchurch killer obtained a standard ‘A Categhory’ New Zealand firearm license. This is quite an involved task – I renewed my own last year, and this involved an in depth interview of myself, and separately of my partner, and a separate phone interview with a friend. It takes more to obtain your first license. You have to first pass a firearms test (I did that at the local police station), and recent changes require young people to receive firearm training.

I note that if you filter the above selection of firearms by ‘Cat A’ the military style weapons drop off the list. Have they already taken voluntary action to make them harder to obtain?

Newsroom –  Ardern: Shooter had five guns legally

The gunman at the centre of the Christchurch terror attack used weapons that appear to have been modified, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

The ability to modify firearms has long been a weak point in New Zealand’s firearm laws, allowing licence-holders to legally hold weapons akin to those used in the military on relatively low-low-level gun licenses.

Ardern promised this morning that gun laws would change in New Zealand, with a ban on semi-automatic weapons mooted. This afternoon she also singled out the modification of weapons.

“We need to look at the modification of guns that can lead them to become essentially the kind of weapons that were used in this terrorist attack,” she said.

From what I have heard modifications involved or included the addition of high capacity magazines. Apparently these are not difficult to obtain.

She said there were a “raft” of issues she would look at.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said Tarrant would not have been able to purchase the gun, in the form it was used, with his Category A licence, but he did not give further information on how the weapons had been acquired, or the exact process followed by police when Tarrant was issued a gun licence in 2017. Bush said these details were still under investigation.

The Christchurch killer is reported to have purchased five firearms in December 2018. This should have raised red flags. It should be simple notify of purchases to a central database, and to flag multiple purposes in a short time, especially where military style weapons are involved.

Stuff:  Prime Minister says NZ gun laws will change in wake of Christchurch terror attack

Asked if banning semi-automatic weapons was an option, Ardern said that was “certainly one of the issues” that would be looked at. She had not fully considered whether a buyback scheme, similar to Australia’s after a mass shooting there in the late 1990s, would be appropriate.

A semi-automatic weapon allows shooters to discharge weapons at a much faster rate as they automatically reload the chamber after every shot is fired.

While semi-automatic weapons generally require an E-licence in New Zealand to obtain, there are some loopholes to this law.

There’s a number of rifles in that list under Semi Auto and Cat-A that look suspect. Like this one:

Barrett REC7 (edited).png

A selective-fire assault rifle and semi-automatic rifle
Aavailable in either 5.56×45mm NATO or 6.8mm Remington SPC

RNZ:

Meanwhile, a loophole in the law may have allowed Tarrant to get hold of the semi-automatic weapons that did so much damage in Christchurch.

Mr Bush said he only had a Category A firearms licence which would have prevented him from legally owning semi-automatic weapons.

But it may still have been possible for him to have bought his firearms legally and then to have altered changed them into semi-automatic, he said.

“A Category A firearms holder can purchase the firearms without the magazines or the things that will enable them to be in the state that they were. I was very happy to hear the prime minister’s comments this morning that there will be a change in the gun laws.”

I’m confused about this. I purchased a semi-automatic on a Cat A license about ten years ago.

The gun site shown above lists 37 firearms filters by Cat A and Semi Auto (I don’t know if this has changed over the last couple of days). These all appear to be either .22 or shotguns – these are less dangerous than high calibre rifles but can still be lethal.

I have used the .22 semi auto for pest control, possums and rabbits. Semi auto is of little use for rabbits but quite useful for possums. If the laws are changed I may have to hand it in.

What the Government will have to do is balance the legitimate use of firearms against public safety due to the rare use of legally obtained firearms for mass murder.