Police officers guard the area near Al Noor mosque, the site of a March 15 terror attack, in Christchurch, New Zealand [File: Carl Court/Getty Images]

Before the attack in Christchurch, very few people expected New Zealand would witness a terror incident of such magnitude. To all outward appearances, we were a very safe and tolerant society. The Global Peace Index had New Zealand as the second most peaceful country on the planet. Our terror rating was “low” (meaning attacks were believed to be unlikely) and we had a national homicide rate by firearms (about 10 per year for the whole country) that was insignificant by international standards.

Despite these considerations, at the end of August 2016, I warned a select committee of the

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