The man responsible for the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed more than 51 people was granted a gun license by the government thanks to mistakes by police, according to the New Zealand news site Stuff. According to a source who spoke to the site, the killer, whose name won’t be mentioned here, wasn’t properly vetted by authorities before they approved him to legally purchase several firearms used in the attack.
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.The error was overlooked when police granted him the firearms licence, allowing the Australian citizen to stockpile the semi-automatic guns later used to murder 51 people.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.“This was avoidable. If police had addressed some of the issues with administering firearms years ago, this could have been avoided,” a source said.
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.
According to police’s firearms manual, the first needs to be a next of kin, such as a partner or parent, and the second an unrelated person who knows the applicant well.
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.