Firearms and Weapons Offences

How we can help:

The Firearms Act provides the Registrar with wide powers to supervise the Act.  In addition Police have wide powers of entry, search and seizure without warrant to enforce provisions.  See s32 of the Firearms Act.  We are experienced in dealing with firearms offences and the use of police powers in investigating offences.  If charged you should seek our advice.  Timely legal advice can have a major effect on how your matter proceeds.  We have experienced trial counsel equipped to contest charges at trial or if you decide to plead guilty our experience will put you in the best position possible to receive a just outcome in the Courts.

Definitions:

Serious Firearms Offences

Some offences are classified as Serious Firearms Offences.  See s20AA of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act.  These include:

  • the possession of firearms while on bail a bond or on parole;
  • committing an offence against the Criminal Law Consolidation Act or Firearms Act involving the carriage or possession of a pistol, automatic firearm, unregistered firearm, a firearm for which you are unlicensed or possessing a prescribed firearm.

Being charged with a Serious Firearms Offence means that bail will not be granted unless the applicant establishes special circumstances exist that would justify the release on bail.

Imitation Firearm

Firearms are classified according to their characteristics as class A, B, C, D and H.  See s5 of the Firearms Act.

An imitation firearm which closely resembles a firearm of a particular class will be taken to be a firearm of that class.  See Regulation 5AA of the Firearms Regulations.

Other imitation firearms which are not children’s toys or novelty items and contain a mechanism that imitates the loading mechanism or firing mechanism of a firearm; or an item that is an imitation of the receiver of a firearm are firearms for the purposes of the Act.  See S 5 of the Firearms Act and Regulation 5 of the Firearms Regulations.

Prescribed Firearms

By definition some firearms are Prescribed Firearms under the Act.  Unauthorised possession of a prescribed firearm is a Major Indictable Offence which attracts a significant penalty. 

Prescribed Firearms include: automatic firearms, military firearms designed to fire explosive projectiles, “sawn off” firearms, folding or telescoping firearms, firearms having the appearance of other objects, home-made firearms and regulated imitation firearms.  See Regulation 4 of the Firearms Regulations for a comprehensive list.

Duty to register firearms and be licenced

Persons have a duty to register firearms and it is an offence to possess an unregistered firearm. Persons in possession of a firearm without holding a firearms licence for that class of firearm commit an offence. 

Duty to store firearms and ammunition

Persons in possession of a firearm commit an offence unless they keep the firearm secured by securely attaching and locking it to part of the building; or keep it in a locked cabinet made of hardwood or steel or a locked steel safe securely attached to the building; or keep it in a locked steel and concrete strong room.  See Regulation 38of the Firearms Regulations.

Ammunition must be stored in a locked container separately from firearms.  See Regulation 41 of the Firearms Regulations

Penalties

On conviction of a Serious Firearms Offence a sentence of imprisonment must be imposed and cannot be suspended.

The maximum penalty for possession of an unregistered firearm where the firearm is a prescribed firearm or a class C, D or H firearm is $10,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.  Where the firearm is any other kind of firearm the maximum penalty is $5,000 or imprisonment for 1 year.  See s23 of the Firearms Act.

The maximum penalty for possessing a firearm without an appropriate firearms licence where the firearm is a prescribed firearm is $50 000 or imprisonment for 10 years; where the firearm is a class C, D or H the maximum is $35 000 or imprisonment for 7 years; for any other kind of firearm the maximum is $20 000 or imprisonment for 4 years.

The offences are aggravated if the offender was carrying a loaded firearm or a firearm and a loaded magazine for that firearm; or had a firearm concealed about the person.  There is a significant increase in the maximum penalties for aggravated offences.  See s11 of the Firearms Act.

The maximum penalty for failing to keep a firearm secured is a fine of $2500.   The maximum penalty for failing to store ammunition in a locked container separate from firearms is a fine of $2500. 

Courts have a wide discretion to forfeit firearms which are the subject of charges.

There is a mandatory condition in all bail agreements that persons not possess or use firearms and be subject to random testing by the police for firearms residue.