The use of firearms in Western Australia is governed by the Firearms Act 1973 and the Firearms Regulations 1974. The Firearms Act sets out a range of offences relating to the improper use, possession and storage of firearms. Failure to comply with its provisions may result in having your firearms seized and being charged with firearms offences. Your firearms licence may also be revoked.
It is a crime to possess, purchase, sell or carry firearms without a licence to do so. In cases involving the unlicensed sale of more than three firearms, a finding of guilt for this offence can result in a penalty of imprisonment for up to 14 years (Firearms Act, Section 19).
However, where a person has been the holder of a firearms licence that has expired but is still capable of being renewed, and the person possesses, purchases, sells or carries firearms, this is an offence rather than a crime and is punishable by a fine only, with a maximum of $2000.
A person licensed to possess firearms must ensure that the firearms are stored in accordance with Schedule 4 of the Firearms Regulations. Under Schedule 4, firearms are to be stored in a cabinet constructed of steel at least 2mm thick, which is kept locked and is anchored from the inside to at least two immovable surfaces. The precise design and measurements to which the cabinet must adhere are described in detail on this police brochure.
It is an offence under Section 23(9) of the Firearms Act for a person responsible for a firearm to fail to provide and use adequate storage facilities or to comply with security requirements for the storage of a firearm. The maximum penalty for such an offence is a fine of $2,000 for a first offence and a fine of $4,000 or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence.
General firearms offences
A range of general firearms offences exists under Section 23 of the Firearms Act. These firearms offences are punishable by fines and periods of imprisonment and may also lead to the seizure of firearms and the revocation of your Firearms License.
- Permitting a person who is affected by drugs or alcohol or who is of unsound mind to take possession of a firearm (Maximum penalty $6,000 fine or 18 months imprisonment;
- Being in physical possession of a firearm while affected by drugs or alcohol (Maximum penalty $6,000 or 2 years imprisonment);
- Defacing or altering any identification mark on a firearm (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 7 years);
- Possessing a firearm on which an identification mark has been defaced or altered (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 7 years);
- Altering a firearm or possessing a firearm that has been altered;
- Using or possessing a silencer; (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 7 years);
- Pointing a firearm at another person (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 3 years or a fine of $12,000);
- Failing to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safekeeping of a firearm (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
- Permitting a person under the age of 18 to have unlawful possession of a firearm (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
- Discharging a firearm onto, from or across a road (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
- Failing to provide and use adequate storage arrangement for a firearm;
- Refusing to allow police to inspect the storage facilities provided for a firearm.
- Discharging a firearm to the danger of the public (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 3 years or $12,000 fine)
- Using a firearm on another person’s property without their consent (Maximum penalty $2000 fine).
The general firearms offences listed above can be dealt with by way of a Firearms Infringement. This means that the police issue you with an on-the-spot fine. If you pay the fine on time, you do not need to go to court and do not get a criminal record. The fine attached to a Firearms Infringement is $421. It is up to the police’s discretion whether to issue a person with a Firearms Infringement or charge them with firearms offences, which may require them to go to court.
If you receive a Firearms Infringement and you do not believe you are responsible for the offence, you can elect to have the matter dealt with by a court by writing to Licensing Services.
If you need legal advice about a firearms matter or any other legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.