A New Zeland man was caught earlier this year with a loaded replica pistol and live ammunition during a flight from Picton NZ to Wellington when it was discovered in a routine security scan. The passenger – Derek Ruait admitted that he was unlawfully carrying the pistol when he was confronted while trying to board his Air New Zeland flight.
Passenger Caught Unlawfully Transporting Replica Pistol Mid Transit
Derek was carrying a loaded replica Beretta pistol that shot 9mm blanks. Derek had bought the pistol off of the website TradeMe which is an online New Zeland auction website. After the security team detected the pistol and its ammunition in a routine x-ray scan they called the police who then questioned Derek about the firearm to which he admitted was his property.
Derek did not declare the firearm or its ammunition upon check-in. Mr. Ruaiti was in the process of traveling to his uncle’s funeral where he intended to give the pistol and its ammunition to his brother. Ruairi was charged with one count of unlawfully carrying a firearm and ammunition by the Blenheim District Court to which he pleaded guilty.
After the passenger was found guilty the court ordered that the replica blank-firing gun be destroyed. Blank-firing guns can be legally purchased by anyone over the age of 18 and they do not require a firearms license to possess or purchase in New Zeland. However, because the offense took place under the Arms Act to possess or use an imitation firearm without a lawful or sufficient purpose the blank firing gun could be considered an actual firearm under the law – especially if it was modified.
A handful of cases have come before New Zeland courts in recent years where blank firing guns were used in a manner not consistent with the Arms Act and those people were similarly charged under the law. However, in Derek Ruaiti’s case, he was only sentenced to 60 hours of community service.
New Zeland Airlines has a similar policy to many United States-based airline companies with regards to transporting firearms, you simply have to declare them at the time of check-in and follow the company’s specific guidelines for the proper transportation of the firearms. Many hunting organizations go out of their way to help any potential passenger to transport their firearms properly within the confines of both the law and the Airline’s rules.