There are many legitimate reasons for a person to be in possession of a firearm, and if a person is licensed to possess a firearm and complies with certain conditions, they will not be charged with a criminal offence.
Some of these conditions include registering all firearms, keeping the firearm safe – in an approved storage container – ensuring the firearm is not a prohibited model, and ensuring that the firearm is not lost, stolen or used by an unauthorised person.
You may be liable for a criminal charge if any of these conditions are not met.
Possession of Firearms
Under Section 5 of the Firearms ACT 1977, several categories classify firearms based on their ability to endanger the public. If a firearm is capable of causing a large amount of damage in a short amount of time, it will be categorised as highly dangerous.
Class A firearms refer to air rifles, air guns and paint-ball firearms; .22 rim fire rifles and single or double barrel shotguns (none in this category being self-loading or pump action firearms).
Class B firearms refer to muzzle loading firearms (not being handguns); and revolving chamber rifles; and centre fire rifles (not being self-loading centre fire rifles); and double barrel centre fire rifles that are not designed to hold additional rounds in a magazine. Also, break action combination shotguns and rifles; and all other firearms (not being prescribed firearms, handguns, self-loading firearms or pump action shotguns) that are not class A firearms,
Class C firearms refer to self-loading rim fire rifles having a magazine capacity of 10 rounds or less; and self-loading shotguns having a magazine capacity of five rounds or less. Also, pump action shotguns having a magazine capacity of five rounds or less. This class not include revolving chamber rifles.
Class D firearms refer to self-loading rim fire rifles having a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, self-loading centre fire rifles, and self-loading shotguns having a magazine capacity of more than five rounds. Also, pump action shotguns have a magazine capacity of more than five rounds. This class does not include revolving chamber rifles.
Class H firearms refer to handguns.
A person found to be in unauthorised possession of a class C, D or H firearm may be at risk of imprisonment for 7 years, or a $35 000 fine, or both.
Prescribed firearms refer to firearms which are automatic, have barrel(s) less than 330 mm (not pistols, air rifles, air guns or power heads), shotguns with barrel(s) less than 450 mm, air rifles and air guns with barrel(s) less than 250 mm, with overall length less than 750 mm (not pistols or power heads), that can be reduced to less than 750 mm in length and are then capable of being fired (not pistols), that are designed to fire projectiles containing tear gas or any other lachrymatory substance or any nauseate or poison, that are home-made, that have the appearance of other objects, bazookas and similar military firearms.
A person found to be in unauthorised possession of a prescribed firearm may be at risk of imprisonment for 10 years, or a $50 000 fine, or both.
A person found to be in unauthorised possession of any other firearm may be at risk of imprisonment for 4 years, or a $20 000 fine, or both.