Illegally buying a firearm

Story (TV3) ran a story last night showing how Heather Du Plessis-Allan bought a firearm, pointing out how ridiculously easy it was to buy a rifle online.

This is a serious concern – but serious concerns have also been raised about the use of a fake name and a fake firearms license number, and also allegedly used the name, ID number and signature of a fictitious police officer.

(Reports refer to a gun license – they are called firearms licences. And the ‘gun’ that was purchased was a rifle).

What you should do is print off an order form, fill it in and then go to a police station with a firearms licence to get Police to verify it and sign the form.

The Story report simply says they didn’t visit a police station.

Highlighting a problem with the ease of purchasing firearms has some merit. But forging police officer details and ‘obtaining by deception’ are potentially serious offences and the police “would not rule out charging the woman who bought the gun”.

Story reports (video at the link): Loophole in gun laws needs to close.

Story was able to obtain a rifle, but it should not have been able to happen and it was too easy to get.

There is a serious weakness in the gun laws that should be closed.

Perhaps – but how tough should procedures be to prevent false claims and forgery?

It would be interesting to know what led to Story doing this? Did someone suggest it to them? Were the ways of faking application details also suggested?

A mail order form was printed off the gun dealer’s website. A fake name and gun license number was used, and the form was not taken to a police station.

Duncan Garner says “we bought it under the name who simply doesn’t exist and who doesn’t have a firearms licence” – obviously if they don’t exist.

The form was sent to Gun City and on the same day, Story received a call.

Two phone calls happened, but information was not checked either time.

A few days later, a parcel arrived.

I could imagine someone in a rural area wanting to obtain a firearm (legally) but why in a city like Auckland? It would be far quicker and easier to do it in person at a shop – and easier to check fraud. Firearms llcences have the holder’s photo on them.

Story wants to stress that someone with a current firearms license was nearby who took possession of the rifle. It was locked away in a steel cabinet as the law requires.

Complying with bits of the law is not a defence against others. Du Plessis-Allen says they also didn’t have any ammunition for the rifle (it was .22 calibre) – a firearms licence would be necessary to purchase ammunition.

And I presume ammunition can’t be delivered along with a rifle,

Gun City is taking a private prosecution against Story and does not believe criminals exploit this weakness, so think nothing needs to change. However, they have admitted they will make changes.

I can imagine them being very unhappy about being duped into selling a firearm to Story.

StoryRifleSproting

$300 sounds cheap for a .22 rifle but what do you expect when the manufacturer can’t spell Sporting on the instructions.

Stuff reports that Police are investigating – Gun shop owner vows to prosecute TV3 reporter:

A gun shop owner is vowing to privately prosecute TV3 reporter Heather du Plessis-Allan, claiming she bought a gun without a licence for her current affairs show.

Auckland City Police has announced it has opened a criminal investigation into the purchase of the gun over the internet.

The police investigation stemmed from a report “from a woman alleging that false details had been used to fraudulently obtain a firearm via an online dealer”, the police statement said.

“For anyone to possess a firearm without having the necessary license is a criminal offence and, if proven in court, could result in a sentence of up to three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $1000.

“Charges for obtaining by deception, if proven, carries penalties ranging from three months imprisonment up to seven years imprisonment depending on the value of the item obtained.”

And Gun City isn’t happy:

A gun shop owner is vowing to privately prosecute TV3 reporter Heather du Plessis-Allan, claiming she bought a gun without a licence for her current affairs show.

Owner David Tipple said the store had broken no laws – but claimed du Plessis-Allan and TV3 could be in trouble.

If police didn’t prosecute the journalists, he would take a private case against them, he said.

He claimed that: “We’ve done nothing wrong. We have completely and absolutely complied with the law.”

The form for the gun purchase had, he claimed, been forged, using a fake name against a fake gun licence number that just happened to be a valid number for a licensed New Zealand gun user.

Tipple said maybe du Plessis-Allan just got lucky with the licence number.

His bigger concern was that the gun form also featured the name, ID number and signature of a fictitious police officer.

That is a concern.

To what extent of illegality should journalists be able to go to prove deficiencies in legal procedures?

I could imagine Police not being very happy if Story did a story on how easy it was to buy drugs by buying drugs.

Leave a comment

69 Comments

  1. Pete Kane

     /  22nd October 2015

    South African (HDA) and a firearm, wonder if Barry is hiding under the bed. Worthy story though.

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  22nd October 2015

      You would have thought the Police signature would also require a stamp. Not impenetrable I know, bit still another step.

      Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  22nd October 2015

    The whole thing was pretty much an exercise in stating the obvious. Also, even though I have never bought firearms online and do not intend to buy firearms online, I know there are far more easier ways to score guns online than how these clowns from TV3 tried to do it.

    Reply
  3. I thought it a good story that did highlight a genuine concern. I can’t see HDA being successfully prosecuted over this. Instead changes to the system have been made to ensure public safety.

    Gun City doesn’t come out looking good with legal threats. The guy sells firearms. He didn’t set up the system but it doesn’t sound like he lobbied any MP’s to tighten things up for safety’s sake. And if this whole caboodle leads to a deeper investigation of his affairs, what might it find? That Gun City sold a suspiciously large number of firearms to the same person, all signed off by the same police officer who turns out to be non-existent?

    Reply
    • “That Gun City sold a suspiciously large number of firearms to the same person, all signed off by the same police officer who turns out to be non-existent?”

      That’s something that I hope will be investigated. I presume someone alerted Story about how it could be done for a reason.

      Reply
      • Andrew

         /  22nd October 2015

        The form then gets sent off from the gun shop to the police station for filing and registering. At that point they would have figured out it was a fake officers details. A few hours after that i am imagining that the AOS would be knocking at the door of the person that bought the rifle.

        She said it was a “fake” firearms license number. But the number turned out to be a valid one. So either it was a VERY lucky guess, or someone provided her with a licence number. If so that person should be quite concerned about now.

        Reply
      • Missy

         /  22nd October 2015

        I read an article yesterday that Greg O’Connor told her how it could be done, now if that is true that raises serious questions about the conduct of O’Connor as well. I am not excusing Heather du Plessis Allen, but if there is any involvement of O’Connor in this illegality then he needs to be investigated as well.

        Also, I don’t see how using forged documentation is a ‘loophole’ in the law, if that is the case there is a ‘loophole’ in just about every law, as forged documents can be used to break a lot of laws – eg: licensing laws through the use of forged id, driving laws through the use of forged drivers licences etc…..

        Reply
  4. Mike C

     /  22nd October 2015

    I’m sure that Barry will be the good husband, and visit Heather in jail 🙂

    Reply
  5. Unitedtribe

     /  22nd October 2015

    I often buy ammunition from Gun City using their online forms. They are very professional and I can’t fault them on safety. I think it would help the system though if they could pre check a licence number to a persons name. That would have sorted out HDA if she was just making up a licence no.

    Reply
    • How do they deliver ammunition?

      Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  22nd October 2015

      Gun City said, “The form for the gun purchase had, he claimed, been forged, using a fake name against a fake gun licence number that just happened to be a valid number for a licensed New Zealand gun user.”

      l’m guessing they knew they were using a real licence number (ie not a coincidence), which if true, and Story didn’t tell us, is a little ‘naughty’.

      Reply
    • Mike C

       /  22nd October 2015

      @UnitedTribe

      I have personally known one of the Owners of Gun City for a long time, and he would not knowingly do anything illegal.

      It is good to hear that Gun City are going to be looking at this, and altering the way they process online gun selling.

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  22nd October 2015

        I’m also am not getting at Gun City, they’ve been very good to deal with in my experience. Once they didn’t wait for age id on an air rifle I was purchasing as a present. but they may have worked from assumptions regarding credit cards. I suspect a very profitable business given mark ups from off shore (esp when the dollar was high).

        Reply
      • artcroft

         /  22nd October 2015

        I’m pleased to hear it. Are there others selling on-line? Because this is not an issue for one supplier but the whole industry.

        Reply
        • unitedtribes2

           /  22nd October 2015

          Trademe posible are the next biggest. They have a system that you need to enter your gun licence number to be active on a auction or even ask a question. I just tried asking a question with a bogus number and they declined it. Shouldn’t be hard to go a step further and match numbers and names

          Reply
          • unitedtribes2

             /  22nd October 2015

            And to add to Trademes security they have just emailed me with this warning.

            We note that you have entered an incorrect firearms licence number when bidding or asking a question on a listing in the Shotguns, Rifles or Ammunition categories. If you placed a bid on this auction, it has now been removed.

            Please note that this is a very serious matter and if you enter another incorrect number further action will be taken.

            You can’t reply directly to this email but if you have any questions regarding this policy, decision or any other issue, we’re happy to discuss this with you. Please contact us using the below link: ”

            Now thats impressive

            Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  22nd October 2015

        Gun City have far too much to lose to do illegal deals, even if they were dishonest enough to do them-and I doubt that they are, I know that anyone can be tempted, but I’d think that in their case they’d have to be offered such a huge bribe that it wouldn’t be worth it to the would-be buyer.

        It seems that they are indeed furious at being dragged into an illegal deal which smirches their reputation, and I would have no sympathy with Story if Gun City took action against them. If someone had walked in off the street and asked what it was worth to be given a gun with no questions asked and were sold one for a premium, Gub City would have no sympathy from me-but they have been dragged into this and are quite right to be very, very angry,

        Reply
  6. Pete Kane

     /  22nd October 2015

    Well remember there’s a guy doing a very lengthy sentence for selling cut down/converted semi automatics to gangs, of which many, many dozens (56 rings a bell) of which he had purchased from Gun City. At the time of his trial (a year or two back) Gun City was questioned about the multiple purchases. He had a gun licence. But the role of the Police probably deserved a little more attention at the time also. Obviously it was the police who prosecuted but as is their habit other earlier ‘policing’ (ie preventative) is often omitted from their public comment,

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  22nd October 2015

      I don’t know what they can do if someone is able to buy a lot of guns legally; Gun City can’t stop them, I suppose. It would be like someone buying large amounts of a legal medication like Nurofen.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  22nd October 2015

        Not that Nurofen can be used for anything other than pain relief, as far as I know.

        Reply
  7. CIF

     /  22nd October 2015

    @ PG

    ….$300 sounds cheap for a .22 rifle….”

    Buying 100+ units of the same ‘Sproting’ rifle out China, landed here at just under a hundy USD.

    Reply
  8. Brown

     /  22nd October 2015

    This is just stupid journalist bollocks really. She broke the law to get what she wanted illegally. People who think laws apply to dishonest people are deluded. All this proves is that you can break the law to get otherwise legal but restricted stuff illegally. Criminals have been doing this since day one.

    She, and any accomplices, should be prosecuted.

    Reply
  9. Mike C

     /  22nd October 2015

    Heather DPA is going to be on the Paul Henry Show on TV3+1 channel shortly.

    Henry referred to her as “Heather du Plessis Allen co-host of Story … and soon to be an inmate”.

    Reply
  10. Guest

     /  22nd October 2015

    What HDPA should have done is give a fake credit-card number too…then the transaction would not have been completed and, technically, she wouldn’t have purchased a firearm.

    Reply
  11. traveller

     /  22nd October 2015

    Not a HDPA fan really (do I sound like Pete Belt doing an Amazon review?), however I’m on her side here. She’s quite possibly done us all a favour by showing the gross ineptitude of a system. Let’s face it criminals and banned firearm’s licensees would have no scruples about how a gun was sourced!
    I’d figure she’ll get a ‘in the public interest” caution because the last thing the police or the gun industry needs is the lights. camera action of a trial.

    Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  22nd October 2015

      Well said Traveller. As Laura McQuillam puts it, she deserves “a slap on the wrist with a thank you note from the police for doing their job for them”.

      Tony Wall did an expose on this years ago and nothing has changed. Rather than looking critically at how the public can be kept safe from armed offenders, both the Police and David Tipple are shooting the messenger (forgive the pun). The loopholes are still there, and no doubt less savoury characters than HDPA are still using those same loopholes to obtain firearms illegally.

      As for Tipple’s threats to take down HDPA, well he’s already known to police so perhaps a little navel-gazing might be more appropriate.

      Reply
  12. The real story here is the Engrish on the gun box – a Sproting Rifle. Not sure I’d trust that lil sucker.

    Reply
  13. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd October 2015

    TV3’s problem is that they decided to name and shame a vendor who was carrying out his duties as provided by the regulations and official systems. That these were flawed could have been demonstrated without doing that. The vendor is now totally within his rights to retaliate with the full force of the law.

    Reply
    • Mike C

       /  22nd October 2015

      @AlanW

      Yeap … it’s all about the tv ratings for Heather DPA and Garner 🙂

      They don’t give a shit about Gun City’s professional reputation … they only care about trying to oust Hosking from the number 1 spot.

      Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  22nd October 2015

      @Mr A W; They can certainly afford to if they choose, many people would be surprised at what a ‘big time’ business they are. Almost hope they do. I mean I can see merit in the overall concept of the story, but there’s a self righteousness to those ‘guys’ that really gets under my skin.

      Reply
  14. Abouttime

     /  22nd October 2015

    HDPA has done a courageous piece of Journalism. she’s exposed a serious loophole in the current laws. As a result those loopholes will be closed. These are the kind of instances which “Journalistic privileges” are necessary as the is of serious public concern. Had a read of one article on WO as I knew he’d be all over this and frothing at the bung
    about it, he made an interesting statement….qoute…”Firstly if someone has obtained a gun illegally and have broken the law – they should be prosecuted just like everyone else would be. Journalists included”….Perhaps he should take some of his own advise while he’s busy exercising “journalistic privilage” defaming, being in contempt of court, and goodness knows what’s yet to come in some other stuff happening!

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  22nd October 2015

      They could easily have exposed the problem without breaking the law and without attacking a particular dealer. Journalistic privilege does not protect stupidity in search of ratings.

      Reply
      • Abouttime

         /  22nd October 2015

        Fair call, and I have to say that I don’t think it was necessary to “mane and shame” Gun City, they are incredibly good to deal with, highly professional, and from what i’m reading are following all the laws as they stand, no need for their name to have been included in the article.

        Reply
      • traveller

         /  22nd October 2015

        Great impact though and quite ballsy whether you agree with her or not.

        Reply
    • SteveRemmington

       /  22nd October 2015

      Aboutime

      What “loophole” did HDPA courageously expose?

      Appears the only 2 loopholes exposed are that:

      1) People who have the intent to commit fraud can subvert any system or process.

      2)Journalists can and will use the loophole of Public Interest to enhance themselves or their latest programme ratings.

      Reply
  15. Abouttime

     /  22nd October 2015

    I thought it was fairly obvious…..Obtaining a gun through the mail…
    There has to be stricter control, there are police stations all over NZ, guns purchased on line IMO should be picked up from either the seller (so license can be sighted) or from a police station, again so the license can be sighted.
    Purchasing by MO just isn’t acceptable!

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  22nd October 2015

      There’s nothing magic about sighting a license. It can be forged physically just as it can be digitally. What needs to be fixed is the validation process.

      Reply
    • SteveRemmington

       /  22nd October 2015

      Whooosh!

      You need to check out what the definition of a “loophole” is.

      Let me help you out:

      “a loophole in a law often contravenes the intent of the law without technically breaking it”

      Reply
      • A loophole would be an obscure bit of law that meant the firearms seller could avoid needing police verification.

        Compared to forging a Police identity and faking a signature to fool the seller.

        Reply
      • Abouttime

         /  22nd October 2015

        Thank’s for your google research….oh I know, start googling other stuff……, time would be better spent attacking the subject, obtaining firearms through any means other than showing up in person and verifying details before guns are being handed out.
        Why do I care? I have children and if HDPA could do this, any internet savvy child could do the same, and they wouldn’t care about the technical definition of “loophole”

        Reply
        • Havesome morepork

           /  22nd October 2015

          To be fair time would be better spent avoiding a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that doesn’t exist.

          How many criminals other than journos are purchasing using this loophole.

          Just Googled it. Answer is fuck all.

          Reply
  16. Mike C

     /  22nd October 2015

    I would quite like to see Heather charged.

    She broke the law.

    Why should she get an exemption from being prosecuted ???

    If she wants to play with fire … then she should expect to get burnt 🙂

    Reply
    • traveller

       /  22nd October 2015

      I’m sure she probably hopes to. 😉 I can’t see how the resultant fallout and media scrum can be good for the Gun Industry or anyone but Story really.

      Reply
  17. Jeeves

     /  22nd October 2015

    No different to the NZ Police forging a warrant and placing an undercover cop ( and swearing on oath) before a judge- pretending he was a gang associate, just to provide him a cover story.

    I sympathise entirely with HDPA- but there’s a point in every Journalists life where they should say- is this really okay to do?
    Am I actually selling heroin to someone here?
    Am I breaking and entering?
    Have I stolen this car?
    Am I forging this document?
    Am I above the law, because I say so?

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  22nd October 2015

      Well the Police in the Nelson case you allude to certainly did do the citizens of that city any favours in terms of outcome.

      Reply
  18. SteveRemmington

     /  22nd October 2015

    PUBLIC INTEREST CONSIDERATIONS AGAINST PROSECUTION

    6.9.1 Where the Court is likely to impose a very small or nominal penalty;

    6.9.2 Where the loss or harm can be described as minor and was the result of a single incident, particularly if it was caused by an error of judgement or a genuine mistake;

    6.9.3 Where the offence is not on any test of a serious nature, and is unlikely to be repeated;

    6.9.4 Where there has been a long passage of time between an offence taking place and the likely date of trial such as to give rise to undue delay or an abuse of process unless: the offence is serious; delay has been caused in part by the defendant; the offence has only recently come to light; or the complexity of the offence has resulted in a lengthy investigation.

    6.9.5 Where a prosecution is likely to have a detrimental effect on the physical or mental health of a victim or witness;

    6.9.6 Where the defendant is elderly;

    6.9.7 Where the defendant is a youth;

    6.9.8 Where the defendant has no previous convictions;

    6.9.9 Where the defendant was at the time of the offence or trial suffering from significant mental or physical ill-health;

    6.9.10 Where the victim accepts that the defendant has rectified the loss or harm that was caused (although defendants must not be able to avoid prosecution simply because they pay compensation);

    6.9.11 Where the recovery of the proceeds of crime can more effectively be pursued by civil action;

    6.9.12 Where information may be made public that could disproportionately harm sources of information, international relations or national security;

    6.9.13 Where any proper alternatives to prosecution are available.

    Reply
  19. Cause for concern?

     /  22nd October 2015

    According to Sean Plunkett this morning, the owner of Gun City had previously faced serious arm-dealing charges after being arrested for attempting to take guns out of the United States. He apparently served a year in jail in 2003 but then faced further charges on 400 seperate counts for selling firearms. Questions were raised as to whether he should be considered a fit and proper person to sell firearms?

    Reply
  20. Mike C

     /  22nd October 2015

    I take back what I said about knowing one of the Owners of Gun City.

    The guy I know is no longer at Gun City, and is with another Gun Company now.

    Reply
  21. BREAKING.......

     /  22nd October 2015

    Police have just announced that as from TODAY, anyone wishing to purchase a firearm by mail order, will need to lodge the completed form with their local Police Arms Officer for verification.

    The Police will then take responsibility for sending the order directly to the dealer to fulfill.. I’d say you could now expect long delays in turnaround times 😦

    Maybe we need to get HDPA to sort out a few more ‘legal loopholes’ that need filling?

    Reply
    • Mike C

       /  22nd October 2015

      @Breaking

      It’s great that the Police have dealt with this so promptly 🙂

      I guess that gun buyers are going to have to be a lot better organized in advance from now on … if it is going to take longer.

      Nobody should be allowed to get their mitts on a gun the same day anyway in my opinion.

      A few checks and balances is a good thing to have when it comes to the ownership of a deadly weapon.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  22nd October 2015

        There’s a limit to what they can do, though, If something’s well forged, anyone can be taken in. I think that Story may have made a point, but they have done it by breaking the law themselves and must expect to face the consequences as any other criminal would.

        Reply
  22. tealeaves

     /  22nd October 2015

    Sounds like quite a manipulative set of tactics were used to get this gun into the post.

    Reply
  23. Missy

     /  22nd October 2015

    Thinking about this a bit more, it seems that the producer of story and the legal boffins at TV3 were all aware of her breaking the law in order to illegally purchase the firearm, so based on that is there a case for conspiracy to commit a crime and they all get charged? I am not an expert in criminal law so am not sure, but I would think there could be.

    Reply
  24. Robby

     /  23rd October 2015

    This issue was discussed over the smoko table this morning. It was a pretty heated debate, but we reached a consensus between the ‘shooters’ and the ‘rooters’… We all agreed that this issue should have been raised with the police BEFORE it was done in public. And all credit to the Police, who have acted immediately to stop it happening again. So now its time for the police to be asking Greg why he planted the idea in an ambitious journalists’ head……….

    Reply
  25. Ray

     /  23rd October 2015

    Robby is onto it
    Just how did HDPA manage to use a valid firearm number for her fake application
    The Police Union has some questions to answer if someone asks the right questions

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s