Gunman who killed seven in shopping centre 'should not have had licence'

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A gunman who shot dead seven people, including himself, in one of the Netherlands’ worst acts of mass murder was wrongly given a licence for a semi-automatic weapon.

A report by the Research Council for Security uncovered a string of shortcomings by government and police in the case of Tristan van der V., who unleashed mayhem in a shopping centre in Alphen aan de Rijn, near Utrecht, on April 9 this year.

The 25-year-old applied for the licence as a member of a shooting club in nearby Nieuwkoop. However, under the rules of the Royal Dutch Shooting Association (KNSA) members of his club were not entitled to use semi-automatic weapons.

Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the research council, said that police who issued the licence should have looked at the request more critically because it was for an unusual weapon.

The report also criticised the shooting club, which was responsible for stating what purpose the weapon would be used for. “The form should have been filled in differently,” Joustra said when questioned.

The report also found that police issued gun too licences too readily and on the basis of too little information.

Security and justice minister Ivo Opstelten and senior police officers also needed to make the issue of gun licences a higher priority.

Police had no way of recording the number of incidents involving legally owned weapons or the number of licensing applications that were refused, meaning the minister had no way of telling if the legislation was working.

Police have already admitted that mistakes were made in the case of Van der V., who had a history of mental health problems, including schizophrenia, and had previously attempted suicide.

Source: De Volkskrant: Vergunning geweer Tristan van der V. was 'onterecht'
Photo by minister-president (official photo of Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Alphen aan de Rijn memorial)

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