Firearms offences in Tasmania are governed by the Firearms Act 1996.
In Tasmania, a person who owns or possesses a firearm must hold a licence and every firearm must be registered. Further, the range of firearms that a person can lawfully use, possess or collect is restricted.
Anyone who isn’t authorised to have a firearm and who voluntarily takes it to the police station and surrenders it won’t face any charges because of the current firearms amnesty.
You cannot sell, acquire, possess, exhibit or use a firearm unless it is registered and you hold the appropriate licence. The maximum penalty is $7,700 and/or 2 years in prison.
If a registered firearm or its certificate of registration is sold, lost or stolen, the Commissioner of Police must be notified within 7 days. The maximum penalty is $7,700.
If you want to register, purchase or own a firearm or ammunition, you must have a current licence. Under your firearms licence, you can also sell a firearm; however, it must be done through a licensed firearms dealer.
You may not possess or use a firearm without the appropriate licence. The maximum penalty for doing so is $15,400 and/or 2 years in prison.
A person aged between 12 and 18 can apply for a minor’s permit if they have the written permission of a parent or guardian. The penalty for a minor who unlawfully possesses a firearm is a maximum of $770.
Eligibility for a licence
To obtain a licence you must:
- be over 18
- have satisfactorily completed an approved firearms safety course
- meet the storage requirements for the firearm you want to use or possess
- have a genuine reason for using or possessing a firearm. Your reason determines the category of licence for which you are eligible to apply and the type of firearm you will be authorised to possess. At the time you submit your application, you will need to provide a statement that sets out why you need the category of firearm that you want. You must also provide evidence in support of your application. Protection of yourself, your family or your property isn’t considered a genuine reason.
- be a fit and proper person. This takes into account your mental and physical health, criminal record and various other factors set out in the Act.
Firearms offences in Tasmania may also relate to how the firearm is stored.
If you have a firearm (including an imitation firearm) you must take all precautions to make sure that it is stored safely, isn’t lost or stolen and doesn’t come into the possession of a person who isn’t authorised. All firearms must be stored in a locked receptacle in accordance with the minimum guidelines for the type of firearm. Keys to storage cabinets must be secure. Ammunition must be stored in a locked container separate from the firearms. A separate container within the main storage unit can be used if the locks are different to those used to secure the main cabinet. The maximum penalty for failing to safely keep your firearm is:
- for a prohibited firearm, $7,700 and/or 2 years in prison.
- for any other firearm, $3,080 and/or 12 months in prison.
Police powers in relation to firearms offences in Tasmania
Police have the power to enter any premises if they believe that a dangerous situation has arisen. They can also:
- require production of a firearm for inspection at any reasonable time
- stop and search a person believed to have a firearm and inspect any firearm in their possession
- with a warrant, enter and search premises, search a person or vehicle, package or other thing in that person’s possession, and seize any firearm or ammunition that is found and any licence or permit in any person’s possession.
Obstructing or hindering police carrying out any of their duties under the Firearms Act, or failing to comply with any requirement made under the Act is an offence. The maximum penalty for not complying with a police officer exercising these powers is $3,080 and/or 12 months in prison.
Firearms offences in Tasmania involving use
The most serious of the firearms offences in Tasmania are generally related to the use of a firearm. These offences include:
- possessing a loaded firearm in a public place. The maximum penalty is $15,400 and/or 3 years in prison.
- discharging a firearm in a public place. The maximum penalty is $7,700 and/or 2 years in prison.
- recklessly discharging a firearm within 250 metres of a dwelling house except on an approved range, or with the consent of the occupier of the dwelling house. The maximum penalty is $7,700 and/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.