Auckland City Police has opened a criminal investigation following information that a firearm was purchased illegally from a dealer.
Inspector Peter Gibson of Auckland Police said Police are investigating a report from a woman alleging that false details had been used to fraudulently obtain a firearm via an online/mail order dealer. Police are making arrangements for the safe return of the firearm.
To obtain a firearm online or via mail order, the buyer must provide the seller with a written order countersigned by Police proving that they have a current firearms license. This is to satisfy dealers that the person is an appropriately licensed user.
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.
"Police takes any incident involving the illegal obtaining or possessing of firearms extremely seriously."
Earlier this year, Police began a review of processes around firearms licensing, which included an audit of the country's largest online/mail order retailer. While that audit revealed no issues around the robustness of online purchases, Police is continuing with a wider audit of all major online arms traders, and is already working with websites such as Trade Me to increase scrutiny of online purchases.
Police is also updating the online/mail order firearms purchasing process, so that those buying gunsin this way from now on will be required to physically visit a Police station and present their license to a Police arms officer before any purchase is approved. If approved, the documentation will then be passed onto the dealer directly by Police.
Police will in the meantime be contacting dealers regarding the updated process and working with them to ensure that they can be certain that those purchasing firearms are legally entitled to do so.
"We would again ask the public to report any concerns they have around suspicious or illegal access to firearms to please make contact with Police immediately," Mr Gibson said.
MEDIA PLEASE NOTE THAT POLICE WILL NOT BE PROVIDING INTERVIEWS OR FURTHER COMMENT WHILE THE INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY.
Issued by: Tracie Simpson, Auckland City District Media.