DOUG TAYLOR AGAINST STUFF

Case Number: 2788

Council Meeting: JUNE 2019

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Headlines and Captions
Unfair Coverage

Overview

1. Doug Taylor complains that an April 12 Stuff story “Military Enthusiast with ‘one of a kind’ gold plated AK-47 not ready to give up his guns” was written in a way that leads the reader to believe that firearm collectors will have to hand in all prohibited firearms.

2. Mr Taylor complains the article breaches Media Council principles of: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, Comment and Fact, Headlines and Captions.

Background

3. The story reported the concerns of the owner of a gold-plated AK 47, around new gun laws being introduced after March 15’s Christchurch mosque shootings. Military enthusiast Crown Xu told Stuff he was worried he would have to hand his special gun in, under the new laws, and he was “waiting to see what happens” before handing it over.

4. The story was published on Friday, April 12 and quotes a police spokesperson as saying that the new firearms law will come into place “this Friday”.

5. The police spokesperson says the main change is the prohibiting of “most semi-automatic firearms, parts and large-capacity magazines” and that people would be advised of hand-over processes and buyback “once these are finalised”.

 

 

 

The Complaint

6. Mr Taylor complained to Stuff on the day the story was published, that it was written in a way that leads the reader to believe that firearm collectors will have to hand in prohibited firearms.

7. Mr Taylor says police had stated on their website that collectors and some owners of prohibited firearms of personal significance will be able to apply for an exemption.

8. Mr Taylor says the Stuff article quoted police but did not make it clear that there are exemptions that would apply to the person interviewed.

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The Response

9. Natalie Crockett, Stuff’s chief news director, Auckland, provided a response which said Stuff did not accept the story suggested all collectors would have to surrender their weapons under the new laws, and nowhere in the story, was this stated.

10. Crockett said the story included prominent links to other stories that provided more detail on the gun laws.

11. Responding to Mr Taylor’s point re exemptions being applicable to Crown Xu’s Ak47, Crockett said Stuff argued that the weapon wouldn’t be exempt as it was an AK47 and highly likely to be banned as it was a semi-automatic weapon.

The Decision

12. The story makes it clear the new laws are pending, the gun owner is “waiting to see” what happens before handing his gun over, and a police spokesperson says more information will be provided once the changes are finalised.

13. The Media Council cannot identify an unequivocal statement or inference within the story that all firearm collectors will have to hand prohibited weapons in.

14. Mr Taylor makes the point that the story fails to make it clear exemptions would apply to the gun owner. The ability to apply for exemption is not the same as entitlement. Stating exemptions would apply is presumptive of a successful application.

15. Mr Taylor complains the article breaches Media Council principles of: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance, Comment and Fact, Headlines and Captions.

16. The Media Council does not uphold the complaint in regard to any of these principles.

Media Council members considering the complaint were Sir John Hansen, Rosemary Barraclough, Liz Brown, Craig Cooper, Jo Cribb, Tiumalu Peter Fa’afiu, Ben France-Hudson, Hank Schouten, Christina Tay, Tim Watkin and Tracy Watkins.