Tackling Unregistered Firearm Offences in NSW
The regulation of firearms is a matter of critical public concern in Australia. In New South Wales (NSW), one of the key offences related to firearms is the possession of unregistered firearms, which is legislated under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW). This Act maintains a stringent framework for firearm control, including detailed provisions relating to firearms registration, usage, and storage.
Understanding the Offence of possession of unregistered firearms
According to the Firearms Act 1996, it is an offence for a person to possess or use a firearm unless the person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit and the firearm is registered. The primary purpose of this regulation is to ensure that all firearms are accounted for, which aids in preventing the misuse of firearms and contributing to public safety.
Let’s consider a couple of scenarios to understand this offence better. For instance, if John found an old rifle while cleaning out his grandfather’s attic and decided to keep it without registering it, he would be committing the offence of possessing an unregistered firearm. Similarly, if Sarah, a licensed firearm holder, bought a new pistol but didn’t register it, she would also violate the law.
Penalties for possession of unregistered firearms
The penalties for possessing an unregistered firearm in NSW are severe. They vary based on the firearm category involved and the offence’s circumstances. For instance, for unauthorised possession of a pistol (category H firearm), the maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment if the matter is dealt with in the District Court or two years if it is dealt with in the Local Court. The penalty a person might receive can be influenced by various factors, including the individual’s criminal history, the circumstances surrounding the offence, and whether they pleaded guilty or not.
Possible Defences for possession of unregistered firearms
A few defences are available to the charge of possessing unregistered firearms in NSW. These include:
- Duress: This involves proving that the person was forced or coerced into possessing the firearm.
- Necessity: If a person can demonstrate that they had the firearm to protect themselves or others due to an immediate threat, this might be used as a defence.
- Lack of Knowledge: If a person can prove that they were genuinely unaware that they had an unregistered firearm, they may be acquitted of the charge.
However, it’s crucial to note that these defences can be complex to argue and often require the expertise of a skilled lawyer.
In conclusion, possessing unregistered firearms in NSW is a serious offence with significant legal repercussions. The best way to avoid these penalties is to ensure that any firearm in your possession is registered and that you are correctly licensed to possess it. If you find yourself facing such a charge, seeking immediate legal advice is highly recommended.