Not a single bogus mail order gun sale was found by detectives checking records at the firearms shop chain from which TV3 current affairs presenter Heather du Plessis-Allan bought a rifle without a licence, says the owner of the chain.
And police have revealed detectives are investigating whether the unlicensed gun purchase by TV3's Story current affairs programme could lead to a charge of "impersonation of a police officer" or forgery, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence.
Police today used a search warrant to enter the home of du Plessis-Allan and her husband, veteran Newstalk ZB political journalist Barry Soper.
The search warrant showed the focus of the police inquiry to be forgery and "obtaining by deception", with maximum jail terms of 10 years and seven years. It said detectives were seeking documents relating to the firearms purchase and samples of du Plessis-Allan's handwriting.
The Story expose saw du Plessis-Allan collect a rifle from a courier after sending Gun City a mail order form in which the "Police Use Only" section had been filled in with a fictitious police officer's name and the officer's purported police registration number.
The form included the credit card being used to pay and a firearm licence number, apparently checked as genuine by Gun City staff.
The expose saw police immediately change their process for mail order gun purchases. Buyers now have to get police to send the form to the company.
Gun City owner David Tipple said he asked detectives to check previous mail order sales and none had turned out to be illegitimate. He said there were about 50 mail orders a month and police checked many hundreds of sales.
"It was squeaky."
He said the failure to find bogus buyers showed there was no "loophole" to be closed because the law as it was worked.
Mr Tipple said the mail order system required a credit card, an address to which the gun was to be delivered and a valid firearms licence number, which Gun City checked with police. It also required the "Police Use Only" section to be properly filled in, showing a police officer had reviewed the purchase.
"If you're determined to dress up as a policeman, where can you not get access to? What can you not do?"
He said anyone who had bought a gun, as du Plessis-Allan had, would have been caught through the credit card, delivery address or licence numbers.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor has been cited as the inspiration for the story, after telling Story co-host Duncan Garner about the issue on his afternoon Radio Live show.
But he was today unable to name a single case in which a firearm was bought using the same "loophole". He said he was aware of it "anecdotally" and "anyone with any knowledge of criminals knows they are a pretty inventive bunch".
Mr O'Connor, who has been pushing for a broader arming of police, said there were a number of problems with laws governing firearms and the Story sting highlighted one of those. "It was far too easy for people to send off a form and get a firearm."
Asked about the "Police Use Only" section, he said: "If they got caught, they are going to get convicted."
Police have a policy for searches of journalists, which includes "close liaison" with media bosses before using search warrants.
Detective Inspector Chris Cahill said there were attempts to speak with staff and managers at TV3 owner Mediaworks before the warrant but "all of those approached chose to exercise their rights to silence".
He said there was an obligation on police to fully investigate anyone getting a firearm illegally "especially where forgery or impersonation of a police officer may be involved".
Mediaworks chief executive Mark Weldon said the work was "an important piece of journalism" which led to "immediate changes to the rules around the mail order system".
"The public interest has clearly been served by the spotlight the Story team have put on this issue."