Police have responded to claims around how the alleged Christchurch gunman was granted a firearms licence – insisting correct procedure was followed and police visited the accused attacker at his home address.
Yesterday a former policeman and head of gun licensing, Joe Green, said a source had raised concerns about whether a number of key checks and balances had been properly done.
The allegations included whether the alleged gunman had applied for a licence in the Waikato region rather than in Dunedin where he lived, that no relatives were interviewed and that his two referees came from online chatrooms.
There were also doubts over whether a home visit and a security inspection took place.
Yesterday afternoon police told 1 NEWS by email they couldn’t comment on the allegations while their investigation was still active, saying “we are not in a position to go into specifics around those enquiries.”
The email also said police couldn’t comment because “the matter is now before the courts.”
And when asked about the allegations at a press conference yesterday, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said he didn’t yet have the answers.
However, this morning police have released a number of specifics about the vetting process – saying based on what they know so far, correct process was followed.
“Based on the information available to us at this time, we have found that correct process was followed by staff involved in the firearms licence application,” a statement said by email.
“The accused filed an application for a firearms licence in September 2017 in Dunedin. 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. Policy states that a referee must be a resident of New Zealand, therefore new referees were requested.
“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.”
The application form for a New Zealand Firearms Licence states the first of two referees must be “a spouse, partner or next of kin (who normally resides with, or is related to you)”.
While police say the referees “met the requirements”, it is not yet clear whether either of the referees were a relative of, or in a relationship with, the alleged shooter.
Police also say they visited the alleged gunman at his Dunedin home.
“One of the steps to gaining a firearms licence is a home visit to meet the applicant in person and inspect the security of their property,” the statement said.
“In October 2017 the accused was interviewed at his home address in Dunedin. A security inspection took place at the same time.
“Following this, all the available information was reviewed and the licence was approved in November 2017.”