The law that governs firearms offences in Queensland, as well as the ownership, use and sale of firearms, is the Weapons Act 1990. Additional offences that relate to the use of a firearm are in the Criminal Code 1899.
Under that law, you can only have a firearm if you are a licensed dealer or hold a permit and you get your firearm from a licensed dealer, a police officer, or under another lawful authority. The same applies to selling or otherwise disposing of a firearm.
Penalties for offences are based on the category of the weapon and range from $2,356 or 6 months in prison to $11,780 and 2 years in prison. If you have 5 or more weapons these penalties can increase up to a maximum of 13 years in prison.
The categories of firearms are set out in the Weapons Category Regulations.
A Firearms Licence allows you to possess and use single shot and manual repeating rifles and shotguns. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns may also be possessed under a firearms licence for some specified reasons; however, you must provide sufficient evidence to justify your need for these firearms.
To get a gun licence you must:
- be over the age of 18 years
- have during the previous year successfully completed a firearms safety training course
- have secure storage for your guns
- have a genuine and legal reason for owning a gun. This includes being a member of a gun club or a collector. You may be asked to provide proof in support of your reason.
- be a fit and proper person. In deciding this, your criminal record and potential health issues are considered.
It is possible for young persons aged between 11 and 17 to apply for a gun licence. Known as a minor’s licence, it enables the young person to learn to shoot, or to compete in sporting events, as long as they are under the strict supervision of a licensed adult.
Firearms offences in Queensland also exist in relation to modifying, altering or changing either the serial number of a firearm or its makeup or operation. Offences of this type include:
- modification or alteration of the action or construction of a firearm
- possessing a firearm which has had its construction or action modified
- acquiring or selling a firearm which has had its construction or its action modified
- making operable a firearm that must be, and has previously been, made permanently inoperable
- defacing or altering in any way an identification mark such as a serial number
- possessing a weapon that has been defaced or altered
- buying, receiving, selling or passing on a weapon which has been defaced or altered.
The maximum penalty for these offences is $23,560 or 4 years in prison.
Severe penalties may apply to firearms offences in Queensland when they occur in public places. A person must not:
- carry a replica weapon in public
- carry a weapon that is exposed to public view in a public place
- carry a firearm that is loaded, or a weapon that is capable of being discharged, in a public place
- go armed in a public place in such a manner as would cause a person to feel fear
- fire or in any way discharge any firearm in, into, towards, over, or through a public place.
Penalties for these offences range from $2,356 or 3 months in prison up to $11,780 or 2 years in prison.
Firearms offences in Queensland include offences relating to possession.
A person must not possess an unregistered firearm.
The penalty for possession increases if the person:
- has more than 10 weapons
- has weapons of a certain category, or
- if the weapon is used to commit an offence.
The maximum penalty is up to 13 years in prison.
For some categories of firearms there is also a minimum penalty, involving a term of imprisonment which must be served wholly in jail. These categories include firearms such as machine guns, military style weapons, and pump action shotguns.
You must have secure storage facilities for a firearm when it is not in your physical possession, and you must ensure the firearm is stored in the secure facilities when not in your physical possession. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is $11,780 or 2 years in prison.
It is a criminal offence to shorten a firearm, or to possess, acquire or sell one that has been shortened. The maximum penalty for this offence is $11,780 or 2 years in prison.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 27 April 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.