Michael John Bond, 76, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, where he was sentenced to eight months’ home detention.
Judge David Robinson said it was only the man’s age and his lack of previous firearms convictions that saved him from a stint behind bars.
The fact pistols were involved was particularly significant, he said, "because that’s the weapon of choice in underworld ... easily concealed, capacity to store a number of bullets — they’re lethal weapons in the wrong hands".
Bond was a licensed firearms holder and lawfully had a Ruger .22 pistol, a Combat 9mm pistol and a Taurus .357 revolver.
The Taurus website describes the latter as a "five-shot revolver that is ideal for concealed carry".
When moving to Dunedin in 2018, Bond transferred possession of the weapons to the armourer of the Invercargill Pistol Club.
It meant if the defendant wanted to use them, he had to be under the "direct supervision" of the man.
Court documents described how Bond would notify the armourer he was coming to the pistol club and the three firearms would be made available.
On January 7, the defendant was at Hunting and Fishing when he had a conversation with a stranger.
The man, known only as "John", showed interest in buying the pistols and the pair agreed to meet a fortnight later at the Riverton roundabout.
Bond organised with the pistol club armourer to use the weapons that day and after firing them at both the indoor and outdoor ranges, he left the premises.
Instead of returning the guns as the law dictated, the defendant met John at the designated spot and sold them to him for $1200.
Bond told police he had no contact details for the mystery man but claimed he had seen his NZ Pistol Club membership card.
Judge Robinson said it was rare to see such a prosecution make it to court.
"Police all too often find they’re confronted with firearms.
"They can hold the person who has possession to account but it’s very hard to trace the firearm back to the person who sold it in the first place," he said.
Counsel Sophia Thorburn said her client was a retired teacher, husband and grandfather, and had only a minor driving conviction to his name and no gang affiliations.
As well as the home detention term, Bond was ordered to complete 150 hours’ community work.