'Failures' in issuing gun licence

A leading firearms lawyer says police vetting of the man accused of the Christchurch terror...
A leading firearms lawyer says police vetting of the man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks had "all sorts of failures".
Police vetting in Dunedin of the man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks showed "all sorts of failures," a leading firearms lawyer says.

His comments came after the former police head of firearms control said police failed to follow the correct procedures in granting a gun licence to the man accused of the mass killings.

Police yesterday maintained they followed the correct procedures and made "extensive inquiries into the process which saw the accused issued with a firearms licence."

Former inspector Joe Green, who headed firearms control, said a source within police told him no interview was conducted with a partner or next of kin during the licensing process to determine with the applicant was a "fit and proper to possess a firearm".

"I understand that there was no interview of a spouse, partner or next of kin, because he didn't have a spouse or partner. He did have next of kin who live in Australia," he told RNZ.

"I understand that two unrelated referees ... were interviewed and that they were a father and son and that they said almost exactly the same thing."

Those two referees knew the accused mainly via online chat room contact, the source told Mr Green.

Specialist firearms lawyer Nicholas Taylor, who has several clients in the South,

believed police work during the firearms application was not up to scratch.

"Clearly there were problems with the vetting. There's all sorts of failures there."

"This guy has had some sort of online presence for almost two years it seems and it was never looked at or checked on at all."

Asked if he had ever heard of someone finding a referee online, his answer was unequivocal.

"God, no."

Police firearms vetting officers were usually retired policemen who had returned to work, he said.

"Some of them have been on the job 40 years, and they're usually very good.

"They're very good at asking questions and looking for reactions from people."

Police yesterday supplied a statement on the accused's firearms licence application, saying they had made "extensive inquiries into the process which saw the accused issued with a firearms licence."

It said the correct process was followed by staff involved in the application.

The accused man filed his application in September 2017 in Dunedin, the statement said.

"The vetting process was undertaken by a police firearms vetting officer in Dunedin, where the accused resided.

"The accused initially listed a family member as one of his referees but that person did not reside in New Zealand."

Police said they requested new referees because policy required the referee to live in New Zealand.

"The accused provided two further referees who met the requirements of the process and were interviewed face to face by a police firearms vetting officer."

In October 2017, the man was interviewed at his home in Dunedin, and a security inspection took place that same day.

"Following this, all the available information was reviewed and the licence was approved in November 2017." - Additional reporting RNZ


From my reading of the complaint, the former police officer would not permit a single person to ever hold a firearm license due to them not having a spouse or partner available for an interview. That doesn't seem too fair to be discriminating against those people who are not married or in a relationship.

The actual license application calls for a spouse, partner, or next-of-kin who normally resides with the applicant or is related to the applicant. There is no mention that this referee must also reside in New Zealand. If this residing in New Zealand is actually a requirement of being a referee then why not say so on the form?

The comments from this ex-cop really do appear to be trying to share the blame onto the police instead of placing it firmly and wholly on the one person actually responsible for this atrocity; the shooter.

An unregulated system enabled the killer.