The use of firearms in Victoria is regulated by the Firearms Act 1996. This act governs the possession, use, purchase, manufacture and supply of firearms and aims to limit the possession of firearms and promote public safety. A range of firearms offences exists relating to the possession and use of firearms contrary to the provisions of the legislation.
What is a firearm?
A firearm is a device designed or adapted “to discharge shot or a bullet or other missile by the expansion of gases produced in the device by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases, whether stored in the device in pressurised containers or produced in the device by mechanical means” (Firearms Act, Section 3).
The act differentiates between handguns and longarms.
How do I get a Firearms Licence?
A firearms licence can be obtained by making an application to the Licensing and Regulation Division of the Victorian Police.
Applicants must fulfill eligibility requirement, which are as follows:
- Applicants must be residents of Victoria;
- Applicants must be aged over 18 for an adult license or between 12 and 18 for a junior license;
- Applicants must be fit and proper persons;
- Applicants must not be a Prohibited Person;
- Applicants must have a genuine reason for needing a firearm licence;
- Applicants must have completed a firearm safety course.
Applications must be accompanied by 100 points of identification and a copy of your Victorian Firearms Safety Course certificate. A fee is payable upon receiving a Firearms Licence. The amount of the fee depends on the Licence Category.
One of the firearms offences governed by the act is possession of unregistered firearms. It is an offence to possess, carry or use a firearm (whether a longarm or a handgun) that is not registered (Section 7B). It is an offence to possess a traffickable quantity (more than 10) unregistered firearms. This offence is punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Firearms offences also exist in relation to possessing firearms without a licence. It is an offence for a person to possess, carry or use a firearm without a licence under the Firearms Act. Where the firearm is a longarm, this offence is punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment. Where the firearm is a handgun, the maximum penalty is 4 years imprisonment.
Storage of firearms offences
A person who holds a firearms licence must store his or her firearms correctly when they are not being used. Failure to store a firearm correctly is an offence under Section 121, which is punishable by maximum of 12 months imprisonment.
Firearms must be stored in a receptacle made of hard wood or steel that is not easily penetrable and which, if it weighs less than 150 kilograms, is fixed to the frame of the floor or the wall of the premises so that it is not easily removable and which is locked.
Carry firearm in certain places
Under Section 130, it is an offence to carry a loaded firearm or use a firearm in a town or populous place or on any thoroughfare or place open to and used by the public for passage of vehicles. There is an exception to this provision in respect of police officers, prison officers and security guards acting in the course of their duties.
Safekeeping of firearms
When firearms are being carried or used, they must be carried or used in a secure way. Reasonable precautions must be taken that the firearms are not lost or stolen. Failure to take these precautions if an offence. These firearms offences can result in a fine of up to 240 penalty unit or 4 years imprisonment.
If you have been the respondent in an Intervention Order, you may be deemed to be a Prohibited Person. If you are deemed to be a Prohibited Person, you will not be allowed to possess a firearm for five years from the date the Intervention Order expires.
If you have been deemed a Prohibited Person and you want to have this reversed, you can make an application to the Court under Section 189 of the Firearms Act. Under this provision, you must satisfy the court that allowing you to possess firearms will not put anyone at risk.
The court will make this decision based on the following factors:
- Whether or not firearms were involved in the behaviour that gave rise to the Intervention Order;
- Whether you have prior convictions;
- Whether you have a “genuine and not unhealthy interest in firearms”;
- Whether you have legitimate reasons for wanting to possess firearms.
If you would like to speak to a lawyer please contact Go To Court Lawyers.