Unauthorised Possession or Use of Firearms NSW

Navigating Firearms Possession Laws in NSW

In the interest of public safety, Australian law takes a rigorous stance on firearm control. New South Wales (NSW) is no exception, with strict laws governing the possession and use of firearms. Of these laws, the offence of unauthorised possession or use of firearms is common, often leading to serious legal consequences. This article delves into the specifics of this offence, shedding light on potential charges, penalties, and available defences.

Unauthorised Possession or Use of Firearms

The offence of unauthorised possession or use of firearms is outlined in the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW). Essentially, this law dictates that a person must not possess or use a firearm unless the person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit.

The law is quite extensive in its scope. It applies to various types of firearms, including but not limited to pistols, shotguns, and rifles, regardless of whether they are operable or not. Further, possessing firearm parts or ammunition also falls under this offence.

Examples and Penalties for the use of unauthorised or possession of Firearms

The severity of the charge and the corresponding penalties largely depend on the type of firearm involved. For example:

  1. Unauthorised possession or use of a pistol or prohibited firearm is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment if the court determines the offence to be serious enough.
  2. The maximum penalty for unauthorised possession or use of firearms, in general, is 5 years imprisonment.

The court considers various factors while determining the sentence, such as the nature of the firearm, the circumstances of its possession or use, and the offender’s criminal history.

Possible Defences

Although the law regarding unauthorised possession or use of firearms is strict, certain defences can be used depending on the case’s specifics. Some of the possible defences include:

  1. Lack of Knowledge: The defendant can argue they were unaware of the firearm’s presence. For instance, if someone else left the firearm on the defendant’s property without their knowledge.
  2. Duress or Necessity: These defences apply if the defendant was coerced into possessing or using the firearm due to threats of harm or was forced to use it in an emergency.
  3. Lawful Excuse: The defendant may be excused if they had a legitimate reason for possessing or using the firearm, such as in self-defence.


Unauthorised possession or use of firearms in NSW is a serious offence carrying significant penalties. Understanding the intricacies of this law, potential charges, and possible defences is crucial for anyone dealing with such a situation. However, because every case has its unique complexities, it is strongly advised to seek professional legal counsel when facing such charges.