Firearms offences in the NT (Northern Territory) are treated very seriously.
Under the Firearms Act if you want a firearms licence you must have a genuine reason, and in some cases a genuine need also. Even when licensed, your licence, permit or certificate of registration may be suspended by the Commissioner for Police for up to 28 days if police consider that you are not fit to hold a licence. You have the opportunity to provide reasons why it should not be cancelled. During the suspension period, you can’t have any firearms which fall into the category of firearms which was covered by the licence, permit or registration.
A licence, permit or certificate of registration is automatically suspended if an interim domestic violence order is made against you; the suspension remains in force until the order is confirmed or revoked.
Any licence, permit or registration certificate and any firearm must be surrendered to the Police. Failing to do so carries a maximum penalty of $7,650 or 12 months in prison.
To obtain a firearms licence, you must:
- be 18 or older (or 12 or older for a Junior Club Licence)
- prove your identity and that you are a Northern Territory resident
- not have been subject to a Domestic Violence Order within the last 5 years
- have done an approved Firearm Safety Training Course
- disclose your criminal history and any mental or physical illness or incapacity which might affect your fitness to have a licence.
For a business or company, the directors must:
- prove it is a Northern Territory registered business or an Australian Registered Company
- provide details of nominees, owners or directors who will be responsible for the firearms.
Both individuals and businesses must:
Genuine reasons for holding a firearms licence include:
- sports shooting – you are a current financial member of an approved firearms club, and have attended the required number of ‘shoots’ in the past year
- recreational shooting or hunting – you are the owner or occupier of a substantial piece of rural land or have permission to shoot on various prescribed lands
- primary production – you are a primary producer who uses firearms solely for farming activities
- vertebrate pest animal control – you are a professional contract shooter for certain pests
- business or employment – it’s necessary to possess or use firearms for your business, including selling firearms
- occupational requirements – your occupation requires the possession or use of firearms
- animal welfare – for example, you are a veterinarian
- firearms collection – you are a member of an approved society or club for collecting firearms
- museum display – you collect firearms for display for their historic or artistic value or mechanical uniqueness
- inheritance – you inherited the firearm and don’t qualify for any other licence.
For the purposes of firearms offences in the NT, there are a number of different categories of firearms set out in the legislation.
Category A includes:
- shotguns which are not pump action or self-loading
- rimfire rifles which are not self-loading
- shotguns and rimfire rifle combinations
- air rifles.
Category B includes:
- centre-fire rifles which are not self-loading
- muzzle-loading firearms
- shotgun and centre-fire rifle combinations.
Category C firearms include:
- pump action shotguns with a maximum 5 round magazine capacity
- self-loading shotguns with a maximum 5 round magazine capacity
- self-loading rimfire rifles with maximum 10 round magazine capacity
- tranquiliser firearms
- paintball firearms.
Category D firearms are:
- self-loading shotguns which can hold more than 5 rounds
- self-loading rimfire rifles which can hold more than 10 rounds
- self-loading centre-fire rifles
- pump action shotguns which can hold more than 5 rounds
- firearms (other than pistols) which are under 70cm long and capable of concealment on the person
- inoperable machine guns.
Category H includes:
- pistols and air pistols.
Firearms offences in the NT which relate to the buying, selling, or trafficking of firearms include:
- You mustn’t buy or sell a firearm without a permit or dealer licence, unless it’s arranged through someone who does have a permit or dealer licence, or through the police. Penalties range from $30,600 or 12 months prison to $61,200 or 2 years prison for individuals, and $153,000 to $306,000 for companies.
- If there are 3 or more sales in any 30 days, it’s considered trafficking. Penalties range from 5 to 10 years prison for individuals, and $191,250 to $382,500 for companies.
- If any of the firearms is a prohibited firearm, the offence becomes aggravated trafficking and the penalties increase to 15 years prison for individuals and $573,750 for companies.
- If more than one of the firearms is a prohibited firearm, it’s considered trafficking in prohibited firearms and the penalty increases to 20 years prison and $765,000 for companies.
- Selling ammunition without a licence or to a buyer without the appropriate licence or permit carries a penalty of $1,530 or 3 months prison for an individual and $7,650 for companies.
- If you’re in the business of selling ammunition you must advise the Commissioner of Police immediately if any is lost or stolen or face a penalty of $1,530 or 3 months prison for an individual or $7,650 for companies.
There are many firearms offences in the NT which do not relate specifically to buying, selling, or trafficking.
Possession of a firearm without a proper licence or permit carries a penalty of $30,600 and 12 months prison for a category A or B firearm up to $61,200 or 2 years in prison otherwise.
Selling, purchasing, possessing or using an unregistered category A or B firearm carries a penalty of $1,530 or 3 months prison. Otherwise, the penalty is $7,650 or 12 months prison.
Altering firearms certificates carries a penalty of $3,060 or 6 months prison.
It is illegal to manufacture, repair or modify a firearm (including assembling one from parts) without the proper licence. For a category A or B firearm, the penalty is $153,000 or 5 years in prison. For any other category of weapon, the penalty is $306,000 or 10 months in prison.
Manufacturing, modifying or repairing a prohibited firearm or pistol carries a penalty of $459,000 or 15 years in prison.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 31 May 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.