Australia John Edwards granted 'Commissioner's Permit' to begin gun training

00:31  11 july  2018
00:31  11 july  2018 Source:   smh.com.au

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John Edwards shot dead his children Jennifer and Jack before taking his own life.© Supplied John Edwards shot dead his children Jennifer and Jack before taking his own life.

John Edwards, the man who shot his two children dead last Thursday, was able to pursue his handgun training because he was granted a so-called “Commissioner’s Permit’, overriding red flags raised by his answers on declarations about his background.

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It is understood this permit reassured officials at the St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre that Edwards could legally undergo handgun training - the first step to getting a handgun licence and then a permit in NSW - despite his answers on a declaration form raising flags in the system.

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"With a history like his there is no way he ever should have been given the Commissioner’s Permit," said Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Robert Borsak. "Whoever did it, whoever it was who did the double check and the triple check on [Edwards] somehow failed on this occasion."

Edwards killed his son Jack, 15, and daughter Jennifer, 13, in West Pennant Hills before later turning the murder weapon on himself in his Normanhurst home.

Gun clubs cannot give a person handgun training until they have filled in a so-called P650 form, declaring among other things whether they have criminal records or mental health concerns or have had an Apprehended Violence Order taken out against them in the past decade. They must also reveal if they have been rejected by other clubs.

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Completing any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties; or. Any person granted a concealed handgun permit who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while carrying such weapon in a public place shall be

Those that tick “yes” to any of these boxes on a questionnaire must then apply to the NSW Firearms Registry for a Commissioner’s Permit. Applications are considered by the registry, a command of NSW Police.

If someone secures a Commissioner's Permit, a gun club can legally train them even if they have ticked “Yes” to one of the red flag questions.

Some time in January last year Edwards was rejected for membership of the Ku-Ring-Gai Pistols Club, preventing him from receiving training. His attempt to apply was refused in part because club officials did not find him to be of good character, and in part due to his answers on the P650.

It appears he unsuccessfully sought to join other clubs and then approached the NSW Firearms Registry and was able to secure a Commissioner’s Permit.

Then some time before May, Edwards approached St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre and accurately filled in a P650, but was able to commence training because of his Commissioner’s Permit.

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It is understood that between his attempt to join the Ku-Ring-Gai club and his application for a Commissioner's Permit, 10 years had lapsed since his AVO.

But according to Mr Borsak, even if that was the case, the NSW Firearms Registry should not have considered him for a Commissioner's Permit. "They have discretion, they have knocked back many constituents who have come to my office. With his history they should have knocked him back," he said.

Mr Borsak said that given Edwards' AVO, his long-term domestic dispute and his "gun club shopping", he should have been considered to be in the "worst possible category of someone who is likely to behave like this".

He said the NSW Firearms Registry had access to a police intelligence unit, but the organisation had been starved of funding and risked becoming a "basket case".

Police Minister Troy Grant said on Tuesday that he had written to Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter to "discuss issues associated with improving information sharing between the Family Law Court and state and territory police forces”.

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In dozens of cases concealed-carry gun permit holders have stopped mass public shootings. John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission .

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Mr Grant and Police Commissioner Mick Fuller discussed a range of issues and measures on  firearms licensing in NSW during a meeting on Tuesday.

The pair are now looking at measures to improve the exchange of information between state and federal government agencies, as well as the assessment of mental health and other medical issues relating to firearm applicants.

However, Mr Grant said the investigation was still under way and the government would wait until "all information is at hand before considering any appropriate measures that will improve family and community safety".

The minister also said there would be no reduction in staff numbers or resources at the Firearms  Registry.

Subsequent to Edwards joining the club and completing his training, there were two other instances in which the Firearms Registry could have intervened before he was able to legally buy a handgun.

According to procedures, a background check should have been conducted once he completed his training and applied for a probationary handgun licence, and again later when he applied for permits to buy his guns.

A spokesman for NSW Police would not comment due to the ongoing investigation, nor would a representative of the St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre.

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