More on HDPA and firearms

The purchase of a firearm by Heather du Plessis-Allan for the Story programme on TV3 continues to get attention.

The police have issued a statement:

HDPAPoliceStatement

Like the police raid on du Plessis-Allan’s house this has been criticised. Rummaging through personal belongings looking for handwriting samples seems an odd step considering she had openly described what she had done.

However while many kournbalists are condemning the police action David Fisher has written a brave and thought provoking opinion column:

Heather du Plessis-Allan and the gun: Did she find a loophole or simply break the law?

Whoever filled in the form provided some of the required details by using a bogus name and credit card number.

The section seeking the number of a firearms licence was filled using an invented number. (The invented number was checked by Gun City staff and came back from police as genuine, clearing the way for the purchase.)

Lower down the form was a section marked “Police Use Only”.

Whoever completed the form created the name of a fictitious officer and included what appeared to be a police registration number.

The requirement for the police officer’s involvement is explained at the top of the form. It quotes section 43a of the Arms Act 1983. That’s the section of the law which makes it legal for guns to be sold by mail order.

Of interest to the Story team was the legal requirement for the form to be signed by the person buying the gun, and the legal need for it to carry the endorsement of a police officer who had seen the buyer’s licence.

The “Police Use Only” section wasn’t just for decoration – it was a stated legal requirement for a mail order purchase, as was the use of a proper name. There are penalties for selling a a gun without consideration of all those steps.

I believe there was great cause for serious thought before the form was completed using bogus details. There are serious penalties around forgery, with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

As Fisher goes on to say, this wasn’t a loophole, it appears to be breaking the law.

The law doesn’t stop anyone from walking onto the street and punching another person. It provides clear guidance why it should not be done and sets out penalties for stepping outside that law.

Almost always, a “loophole” is what is exposed when you do something the law does not cover but should. In my opinion, a “loophole” is not what you have when you break the law just to show how easy it is to break.

While it’s fair enough questioning how the Police are investigating, it’s also fair enough questioning whether the degree of law breaking was justified to point out a potential weak part of the online purchase process.

 

 

 

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75 Comments

  1. kittycatkin

     /  2nd December 2015

    The police may well think that if she did it once, she did it again. They can’t make a difference because she’s a television presenter who did it for a story. Would it be all right if a male presenter discovered that underage girls were working in a brothel and had sex with one to prove how easy it was to do ?

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  2nd December 2015

      You do a mean counter-example, kittycat!

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  2nd December 2015

        (smirks)

        Seriously, I know and the police almost certainly know that hers was a one-off, but they can’t make exceptions for one person-they have to treat her as they would anyone else who did this. I wonder if she’s wishing that she or whoever thought of this hadn’t !

        Reply
        • jamie

           /  2nd December 2015

          Are they treating her like anyone else though? I don’t think so. I think if anyone else openly admitted to this crime they would be prosecuted on the basis of that statement.

          I don’t think they would have Police going through their knicker draw looking for evidence of something they’ve already admitted doing.

          No, this is intimidation, designed to send a message, and that message is only worth sending because Heather is not “anyone else.”

          Reply
          • kittycatkin

             /  2nd December 2015

            I don’t agree-they have to treat her as they would anyone else, and going through drawers is standard procedure in a search, surely. I don’t believe that she is having different treatment, or complaints would have been made.

            Reply
            • jamie

               /  2nd December 2015

              I have never heard of a police search being carried out in order to obtain handwriting samples to prove that someone filled in a form which they had already admitted filling in.

              Perhaps that’s normal, but not as far as I know.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  2nd December 2015

              Presumably the handwriting in the section purporting to have been completed by a police officer was not her normal writing. They may have been checking it was not done by her husband or another friend. Otherwise their whole case could fall apart in court.

            • jamie

               /  3rd December 2015

              Alan that seems to me a very sensible line of inquiry but also very flimsy grounds for a warrant to search someone’s bedroom.

            • Missy

               /  2nd December 2015

              The impression I have got is that there may be some doubt as to whether she – or someone else – completed the form, so they are wanting handwriting samples to see if they can determine if she actually filled in the form or someone else, and as Mediaworks people are not cooperating they got the warrant.

              And Jamie, even if someone admits to a crime, the police still need to obtain other evidence to corroborate it, otherwise they can’t do much if the person retracts their confession can they?

              And I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of all of the search warrants the police execute do you? So just because you ‘have never heard of a police search being carried out in order to obtain handwriting samples to prove that someone filled in a form which they had already admitted filling in.’ doesn’t meant that they haven’t – unless you have access to all of the searches police have carried out.

            • jamie

               /  2nd December 2015

              I’m not saying I know all about how or when searches are usually conducted.

              I am saying I find it difficult to believe that the police don’t have all the evidence they need in the form of a publicly available video where she explains how she committed the crime.

              And I find it equally difficult to believe that anyone thinks there is a genuine possibility of her retracting the news story.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd December 2015

              She doesn’t have to retract. She just has to plead not guilty and not give evidence. Then her lawyer can say there is no evidence to support the charge other than inadmissable hearsay. He can invent all kinds os scenarios in which other people are involved and the case will fail.

            • jamie

               /  3rd December 2015

              Fair enough. So tell me again what was the reason for searching her bedroom instead of her desk?

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  3rd December 2015

              🙂

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd December 2015

              We have all kinds of stuff in our bedroom including heaps of paperwork and electronics. Who knows what they have?

            • jamie

               /  3rd December 2015

              “…instead of her desk…”

              If HDPA’s writing samples were the target of the search, then the question ought to be addressed as to why her bedroom was targeted while her office desk was not.

            • jamie

               /  3rd December 2015

              (ps I’m not the one giving you those downticks Alan, I think you’re making good points.)

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  3rd December 2015

              No worry, Jamie. I ignore down-ticks and never give them myself except by fat finger accident. They are for zombies to identify themselves with.

  2. Robby

     /  2nd December 2015

    Greg O’Connor should be being investigated over this as well IMHO, but I’m not holding my breath…..

    Reply
  3. Missy

     /  2nd December 2015

    Pete, just because she said on TV what she did does not mean that will hold up in a court of law as evidence (if it goes that far), so no “Rummaging through personal belongings looking for handwriting samples…” is not an odd step – that is what the police do when they execute search warrants – especially when those involved are not cooperating (as appears to be the case here based on the police statement) and they need actual hard evidence. I would be interested who else in connection with the case had search warrants served that didn’t tweet / publicise it.

    To be honest I have more sympathy with the police in this case than with any poor journalists / media people who seem to be a bit upset they aren’t being treated as special. She fraudulantly obtained a firearm, as David Fisher says – it wasn’t a loophole in the law, she broke the law. And I can’t believe I am agreeing with David Fisher!

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  2nd December 2015

      ‘Rummaging’ is an emotive word, of course. ‘Searching’ doesn’t have the same sense of invading one’s belongings. What did she expect ? A token look ? The police can’t let it go just because it’s her and they must know that she wasn’t going to use the gun. Anyone could say that.I don’t believe for a second that she was going to keep or use the gun, but that is beside the point. Rummaging implies curiosity-and the police aren’t interested in looking at her frillies, only searching for evidence. They have done this before and it’s just a job to them.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  2nd December 2015

        The staff at MediaWorks were fools not to speak to the police-I wouldn’t have thought that they had that option, and it also looks as if they had something to hide. Nobody is above the law.

        Reply
        • jamie

           /  3rd December 2015

          They certainly have that option. No-one is compelled to talk to the police, that’s a fundamental right. I agree it was foolish though. I would have thought there would be a plan in place given the inevitability that the police would be calling on them.

          Reply
        • Jeeves

           /  3rd December 2015

          @ kitty- that’s not being ‘above the law’ that is being perfectly within the law.

          Standard legal advice will be “NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE”

          And I’ll repeat it : “YOU SHOULD NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE”

          Its got nothing to do with having anything to hide- its about keeping you private business private.

          Reply
      • jamie

         /  2nd December 2015

        “searching for evidence” of something she had already admitted doing.

        Totally unnecessary. Designed to intimidate. Designed to send a message.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  2nd December 2015

          Rubbish Jamie, just because someone admits to something doesn’t mean the police shouldn’t look for evidence to back it up – people lie, they also retract confessions.

          Reply
          • jamie

             /  2nd December 2015

            Oh come on you’re not taking this seriously.

            She made her “confession” on television. She explained how she did it. The police have it on video.

            You really think there’s a possibility that she could get away with claiming she made the whole thing up? Think about it.

            Reply
            • Missy

               /  2nd December 2015

              I think you are the one not taking this seriously.

              The police require MORE than just someone saying they did something to determine if there should be a prosecution, you seem very naive if you think just saying something is enough evidence to determine 1. if someone should be prosecuted and 2. guilt or innocence if they are prosecuted.

              I don’t know if she could get away with retracting her confession, but it is a possibility.

              I have thought about it – have you? Have you thought that maybe it is possible she didn’t actually fill in the form, just said she did to protect the person who did thinking she could get away with it on the ‘in the public interest’ defence? Have you thought that because Mediaworks are not cooperating with the police there may be something they are covering up – like the fact it was more than her involved? Have you thought that the police may be determining ALL of the facts and gathering ALL of the evidence in order to establish whether they have enough to prosecute? Whether they should just be prosecuting her – or others as well?

              Maybe you are an honest person who would not try to cover things up from the Police, or retract a confession of a crime that has been recorded – I don’t know you so couldn’t say – that is the point here, most of NZ (and the police) don’t really know her so we don’t know what she will or won’t do. People have confessed to crimes on video and retracted them in the past – who is to say she won’t? Not me, not the police.

            • “What she will or won’t do” – like retract her confession?
              This is expected, accepted, usual behaviour for genuine criminals; one’s who haven’t voluntarily documented more-or-less every moment of their ‘heinous’ crimes. The ones who really hurt people, sometimes with firearms.
              Or maybe, “what she will or won’t do” – like become an arms dealer for some organised crime syndicate in NZ?
              Oh, but wait, she’s closed one of the loopholes which might have facilitated that. She appears on the TV each night …
              In an ethical world – where Law would be capable of discerning – I reckon she’d be prosecuted for nothing more than an excess of “partiality” or “incitement” exercised in a field which mostly tossed out the baby of impartiality some years ago in favour of some fresh, soapy, sudsy, slippery, slimey water of “documercial”, infomercial and entertainment.

            • Jeeves

               /  3rd December 2015

              @Jamie
              What does the term “for dramatic effect ” mean to you?

              Are you actually confessing, in 2015, to believing what you see on the news? Because its on TV- it must be true?

              Holy shit man.

  4. Missy you have my complete support on this. No one is above the law, and to not prosecute a “Journalist” because they are a Journalist is providing an unacceptable protection to journalists which goes against the intent of the cherished protections provided to the 4th Estate. This Journalist should be subject to the full force of the law. She should be imprisoned for her attack against the fundamental principles of Democracy. Those who claim privileged positions who offend against the accepted mores of that privilege have to be treated harshly lest we lose sight of the fundamental principles of democracy.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  2nd December 2015

      Agree completely bjmarsh! It annoys me that journalists think they are above the law and they try and use the in the public interest argument to justify breaking the law.

      I believe many journalists in NZ are getting confused between ‘in the public interest’ and ‘of interest to the public’. Breaking the law to buy a firearm is of interest to the public, legally doing a story on the weakness in the firearms law and highlighting that firearms could be bought illegally is in the public interest – HDPA seems to not understand the difference. It is time that journalists are held to account for their actions. The stupid thing is they all seem blind to public opinion about their profession – there is a reason they are one of the least trusted professions.

      Rant over. 🙂

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  2nd December 2015

        I agree-and I once went out with a television journalist. 🙂

        Reply
      • Kevin

         /  2nd December 2015

        “Agree completely bjmarsh! It annoys me that journalists think they are above the law and they try and use the in the public interest argument to justify breaking the law.”

        Blame Hager. He set the precedent.

        Reply
    • Jeeves

       /  3rd December 2015

      Actually- just on a slight technical point re : “No-one is above the law” is wrong.
      THe NZPolice are above the law, and I’ll try to find the statute which states that….

      Reply
  5. kiwi guy

     /  2nd December 2015

    “kournbalists”

    I thought this was some fun neologism but its just Pete BUI ( Blogging Under the Influence)?

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  2nd December 2015

      ‘It’s’, not ‘its’-your own writing is far from perfect, but whereas Pete’s is obviously a typo, I suspect that yours isn’t.

      Reply
      • kiwi guy

         /  2nd December 2015

        A typo, are you serious? He’s missed the J and thrown in a B, and not even noticed.

        “Far from perfect”? – it’s, its – these are common grammar mistakes, no biggie, still readable.

        But “kournbalist”, WTF?!

        Reply
  6. kiwi guy

     /  2nd December 2015

    The police are just giving her shit like they did to that academic in love with the gangs, who ended up crying about it in the NZ Herald.

    Reply
    • kittycatkin

       /  2nd December 2015

      Hardly. She broke a firearms law, and that is taken very seriously by most people. Would you say that if she was a drugs dealer ? Or do you think that the law should not apply to everyone ?

      Reply
      • kiwi guy

         /  2nd December 2015

        LOL, no I don’t think the intentions of an Investigative Journalist are the same as a P dealer trying to get hold of weapons for a turf war.

        Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  2nd December 2015

      Heather needs to be very careful, I read somewhere once that they planted a bullet case in someones garden and the poor guy got about 15 years or something 😦

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  2nd December 2015

        I can see no similarity between the two cases-or charges.

        Reply
        • Nelly Smickers

           /  2nd December 2015

          That’s exactly what the Forensic Scientist said 15 years later 😦

          Reply
      • jamie

         /  2nd December 2015

        Yes, for Heather’s sake hopefully her case is also handled by a police officer of “integrity beyond reproach.”

        Reply
        • Robby

           /  2nd December 2015

          Hopefully Jamie, but since Greg O’Connor allegedly came up with the idea, it would be pretty difficult for any honest cop not to declare a conflict of interest….

          Reply
  7. So… they broke the law prima facie. And now they are playing a little game with the Police to:

    > Gain sympathy
    > Gain publicity for the journo and the Story programme
    > Make the Police look heavy handed

    All in the knowledge that no one is going to jail in all probability.

    The Police may well build a case to prosecute, the Crown Law office will review all most certainly given the high profile and political overtones, and more than likely the case won’t be prosecuted or a plea deal with requisite wet bus ticket punishment will occur….

    Given a question in the house today mentioned this case in passing it would seem some favours are already being called in.

    > Faking a police officers name, number and signature is a serious matter
    > Obtaining a gun by illegal means in a way that newspaper reports suggest has NEVER been done before [do a search on the major news papers web sites and you will find a lawyer saying a review of 18000 applications and nothing like this] is a serious matter

    HDPA could have worked up a story line with all the elements, gone to the Police for comment etc and yada yada piece done without breaching the law.

    BUT that would have avoided the Tabloid shock value of the weapon being pulled from a box.

    Never mind – it will all go quiet when TV3 stop milking the publicity and in a few months an announcement of a deal/no charges will emerge…

    But that’s just my opinion.

    Reply
    • Robby

       /  2nd December 2015

      Any serious investigative journalist would have covertly recorded the alleged conversation with the head of the police association to cover their backside, should it all go ‘tits up’, like it has. I suspect a ‘deal/no charges’ will be announced in the near future…. 😉
      TV3 lawyers gave it the OK, remember….. And Mr O’Connor has been very quiet since the proverbial shit hit the fan…… Perhaps a verbal assurance was given that everything would be OK…..

      Reply
  8. Du Plessis has committed a far more heinous crime – she is a journalist. Her worst offence though is that she has had the temerity to get a bit pushy interviewing members of the Government. She can’t be jailed for that so this gun thing will do for many of the masses.

    Reply
  9. brucehnz

     /  2nd December 2015

    Now that heather has fucked up that little loophole,

    Does anyone know where I can get a gun?

    Reply
  10. Grumpy

     /  2nd December 2015

    I understand that the forged “police officer’s signature and number” actually belonged to a real officer! So how did that happen………Greg?

    Reply
  11. Jesus, here’s a lose/lose situation if ever I saw one. No set opinion either way at present.

    I feel some sympathy for the firearms business caught in the middle.
    It also seems irresponsible of the law to allow them to send firearms by non-signature-required courier (or as parcels) and have them left on people’s front porches or doorsteps.

    There’s something to be said for these things being tested in a Court of Law, but can Courts of Law be trusted not to be acting as instruments of political agendas?

    Very reminiscent of a certain marijuana case in Kaikohe for me. Arguably a form of victimless crime, notwithstanding the gunshop. So what could the police motive be?
    Perhaps retribution as well as intimidation? You showed us up, you b*tch? Take note you others. The ‘Law’ is on our side. Be warned! Just speculating here ….?

    “it wasn’t a loophole in the law, she broke the law” and “No one is above the law”.
    I have a philosophical problem with this viewpoint. Currently our Law is Law severed from Ethics. A head without a body. Intellect without feeling or intuition.
    It is virtually incapable of discernment and distinction, like, “victimless crime” or “one-off”.
    Hence, and here’s the point, if they WANT TO, the police can demand or a judge simply decide for him/herself that an accused person should receive the full weight of the law’s ‘blind’ judgement. If they can get her into a Court of Law, I contend the Law is on their side.

    This, of course, is unethical. The police and judges are human as well, holding prejudices, capable of being influenced, acting on the basis of long outdated laws (in the case of marijuana).

    So yes, HDPA obtained a firearm fraudulently. Arguably, she did so for the greater public good? I’d love to see it argued in Court … except I don’t trust Courts any more.

    Reply
    • Robby

       /  2nd December 2015

      Here’s the really funny thing PartisanZ. A friend of mine has a MSSA licence, but couldn’t get these weapons sent to his home, because the package had to be signed for, and he works during the day. So he got them sent to his workplace, because there was always someone in the office there. The office girl (who didn’t have a firearms licence) would sign for his parcel, and an assault rifle would sit in the lobby of his workplace all day, waiting for him to get back and take it home. He used to complain about his boss opening his ‘packages’, and admiring his new gun before he had a chance to. And he is now very upset that he has to go to the police station to pick up his guns, thanks to some pesky journalist…
      Personally, I think she has done us all a favour.

      Reply
      • Yep! So now ya gotta ask (when I say ‘ya’ I mean ‘me’), “Who is it allows this to happen? Who is it doesn’t have the intelligence to foresee the possible outcomes of ‘postal firearms'”?
        We’re talking firearms here; lethal f*cking weapons!
        Or, who did this policy serve while it reigned? Who benefited from this? How and why?
        How could a policy that potentially made it easier for criminals to obtain firearms benefit society?
        And now you might be stepping on the same toes that HDPA has trod on?
        (I want a job as a conspiracy theorist, in case no-one’s guessed)
        I don’t know. I speculate.
        There’s a cogent argument outlined in a TV doco that the “War on Drugs” in America ultimately benefited the Law enforcement, Judicial and particularly Penal branches of the US economy. The ‘War on Drugs’ supplied the ‘raw materials’ for these systems to process.
        Those systems employed vast numbers of people, absorbing free market flotsam – one way or another – as Detroit shut up shop, thereby covering the most visible failings of the free economy with a ‘righteous cause’. (A crusade!?) War on Drugs roughly coincided with Reaganomics.
        I haven’t got it. I just know its all tied up together. Privatised prisons? Crime maintenance?
        I speculate …

        Reply
        • Robby

           /  2nd December 2015

          Enough speculation please PZ! It isn’t speculation to say that one can’t kill anyone by throwing a bag of weed at them…. What interests me is how the whole mail order thing relies on the honesty of freight carriers. If it has ‘Gun City’ as a return address, and is rectangular in shape, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what a parcel probably contains…. I wonder how many parcels fitting the above description have been ‘lost in transit’ over the past few years???

          Reply
          • Good point.
            I enjoy speculating! Here’s one: I speculate it is an absolute fact HDPA never intended to kill or harm anyone with a mail order rifle. There’s documentary evidence of this extant in the public domain. Hence, ethically, she is more in the realm of the “bag of weed for one’s own use” criminal than the firearms criminal. And, what’s more, the bag of weed criminal is ethically not a criminal at all.

            Reply
          • Jeeves

             /  3rd December 2015

            I wonder will courier companies be prosecuted for knowingly carrying firearms without a licence?
            Its a bit like DotCom knowingly hosting a site that facilitated uploading…..

            Reply
    • agree with most of your post PartisanZ, but maybe the Police are really annoyed at her because she showed the crims and wannabe crims out there how to do it.? In that respect i do think it is journalism not for the public good. They could have done the same thing and taken it direct to Police, rather than to the public.

      Reply
      • Maxwell Smart: The old ‘reporting on suicide’, copycat argument eh? Missed it by that much!
        They could have just gone to the police, yes, but then we all accept our news and current affairs journo’s – along with us – are involved in a ‘ratings game’ nowadays.
        I think brucehnz covered it about how crims get hold of firearms but HDPA also closed the very loophole she exploited. Within the ratings game I reckon she acted fairly responsibly.

        Reply
  12. brucehnz

     /  2nd December 2015

    Criminals don’t buy new guns, they steal them of other people, or they stand over registered gun owners to buy firearms and ammunition for them.
    The gangsters already have plenty of guns.
    Since the police changed the firearms laws about twenty years ago, when all firearms had to be registered, they lost control. now they have no idea how many guns there are or who has them.

    Reply
    • You look like a reasonable man brucehnz.
      My point exactly, “they lost control”.
      Why would ‘we’, ‘they’, whoever, allow that loss of control to happen?
      You can see how easily conspiracy theories develop eh?
      The Force is one of those jobs which, if truly successful, could work themselves out of a job, eh? (I exaggerate of course Ψ)
      But I think it goes deeper. I think it ranges way down to a need which maintains the scaffolding of our system; the need for fear in the population.
      A system we have the audacity to call ‘democracy’!
      Only good thing is the current system is at least somewhere on the road to democracy, maybe?

      Reply
      • brucehnz

         /  2nd December 2015

        I’m hearing you, I have been around for a long time, seen a lot of shit, I aint no choir boy lol.
        I have known a lot of cops on a personal level, and a lot of criminals too.
        I can tell you for a fact the police cultivate criminals, they sure as hell aint going to get the last one.
        Its a bit like the old rabbiters back in the day, knock off the young ones and let the milky does go. Lest they have no income.

        Reply
  13. Brown

     /  3rd December 2015

    … police raid …

    Crap, Making an appointment is not a raid. Typical media shit being regurgitated by the shit media for effect. Ratings come way before accuracy, honesty and integrity.

    It does appear that for all the frothing at the mouth by those who hate guns because guns kill things or something I see no evidence that NZ has any problem with people buying guns legally despite the alleged flaws in the system.

    She’s a moron in my view and needs a short sentence for the fraud aspect.

    Reply
    • I agree with the “media shit, shit media” allusion you make – garbage in, garbage out – and we, the viewers, are the trash heap – and yes, she may be a moron. Probably more for being used by her own organisation than anything else?
      But if she gets locked up for it, no matter for how long, she’ll be a political prisoner for the duration as far as I’m concerned.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  3rd December 2015

        I would expect her to get a community work sentence rather than prison.

        Reply
        • Jeeves

           /  3rd December 2015

          That may not be an option available to the judge- although if he can mitigate cleverly to get her down to under 12 months (24) she’ll qual for Home D.
          There will be zero aggravating issues.
          Depends a little on how the Crown plays it.I can’t see them asking for her to do time, though.

          Reply
  1. Heather du Plessis-Allan: National Party not constructive with conspiracy theories – Most Important Current Affairs

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