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RC Findings Should End Firearm Changes

If the Royal Commission into the Christchurch Mosque Shootings found Police incorrectly gave Brenton Tarrant a firearms licence, the Government will lose its justification for further firearms restrictions, according to the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).

On the eve of release of the Commission report, COLFO Chairman Michael Dowling says the Government confirmed in Parliament last week that it intends to use powers it gave itself last year to arbitrarily impose further restrictions on firearm ownership.

“The Government gave itself those powers by using every opportunity to link firearms bans and licencing changes to the Christchurch Mosque shootings."

In a judgement on COLFO’s High Court legal case against the Government’s reclassification of types of ammunition, Justice Cooke stated that there was no connection between what the Government defined as prohibited ammunition and the mosque shootings.

“If Tarrant got a license and firearms due to a Police blunder, then its response was not justified by Tarrant’s actions.

“It will have made law based on emotional response to the shooting, not evidence. When we get that evidence tomorrow, the justification for more bans and ownership restrictions will evaporate.”

“Our suspicion is the report will confirm the Government acted rashly, to do something rather than the right thing, the ban and Arms Act will become a case study in irrational law-making.”

“Our expert members have yet to see how the amendments made would have prevented Tarrant in an environment where Police did not follow the existing laws they were charged with administering.”

Questions the Royal Commission should answer:

  • How did an Australian without NZ connections get a licence?
  • To what extent did the process rely on on-line questions and miss face to face assessments?
  • Did Police enquire about Tarrant in Australia? If not, why not?
  • Who did Police contact as character referees? What judgment did they apply to their suitability?
  • Were the character referees required to have known Tarrant for at least three years? If not, why not?
  • Would Police have been better equipped to apply the fit and proper person test to Tarrant if they had not abandoned the previous system that closely involved local non-sworn people?
  • Did Tarrant’s character referees lie to Police; and if so, what has happened to them?
  • Did Tarrant have a licence endorsement that allowed him to purchase the firearm he used to murder his victims? If so, why? If not, was the firearm illegally sourced, and if so, from where?
  • Would he have been able to get the large magazines or other features that facilitated his murders if previous firearms community warnings about gaps in the endorsement system had been acted on?
  • Was anyone found to have attempted to remove or change evidence about the collection of data on Tarrant’s fit and proper status?
  • Were the Minister and Prime Minister told about failures in vetting Tarrant, and if so, why did they subsequently continue with the firearms ban and Arms Act changes knowing they were not related to the murders?
  • If the government did know, why were Police not replaced with a special purpose authority in the law change last year?

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