Firearm trafficking is a serious offence in New South Wales (NSW) and for a good reason
With the potential for firearms to be used in crimes or even terrorist activities, governments worldwide take a strong stance against such illegal activities. In NSW, the trafficking of firearms is heavily regulated under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) and the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This article provides an overview of the offence, its penalties, and examples of prosecutions for trafficking firearms in NSW.
Understanding the Offence
Firearm trafficking typically involves illegally selling, purchasing, possessing, distributing, or manufacturing firearms. It’s an offence to traffic firearms or firearm parts within NSW, interstate, or internationally. This includes fully operational firearms, firearm parts, and defaced firearms.
For example, an individual caught selling firearms without a dealer’s license or transporting many firearms across state lines for sale can be charged with firearms trafficking. Similarly, a person who modifies firearms by removing serial numbers or other identifying features intending to sell them could also be prosecuted for this offence.
Penalties for trafficking firearms
The penalties for trafficking firearms in NSW are severe and aim to reflect the seriousness of the offence.
Under Section 51F of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), a person who sells, purchases, possesses, or transports three or more firearms or firearm parts to commit an indictable offence is liable to imprisonment for 20 years.
If the person is trafficking five or more firearms within a period of 6 months, the offence is considered “aggravated” trafficking of firearms, and the penalty increases to imprisonment for 30 years under Section 51F(2) of the Crimes Act.
These significant penalties underscore the risks associated with firearm trafficking and the strong commitment of NSW law enforcement and the justice system to combat this illicit trade.
Examples of firearms trafficking prosecutions
One example of prosecution under these laws is the case of a man arrested in Sydney in 2017 as part of a joint operation between NSW Police and the Australian Federal Police. The man was found to have 26 unregistered firearms and was charged with multiple offences, including aggravated firearms trafficking. He was subsequently sentenced to a substantial term of imprisonment.
In another case, two men were arrested in 2019 following an investigation into illegal firearm supply in NSW. They were charged with numerous offences, including the trafficking of firearms and participating in a criminal group. Their case remains before the courts.
Trafficking firearms is a grave offence in NSW, given the potential harm that illegally obtained firearms can cause in the community. The law in NSW provides serious penalties for those caught trafficking firearms to act as a strong deterrent. As seen in the cases discussed, the authorities in NSW are continually working to enforce these laws and prosecute those involved in the illegal firearms trade.