The General Law On Firearm Offences
There are a range of offences relating to firearms in New South Wales, covered primarily under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW), Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW). The possession, use, sale and supply of firearms is heavily regulated and firearms offending is treated very seriously by the Courts.
Anybody wishes to possess firearms must obtain a firearms licence. You must have a ‘genuine reason’ for requiring a firearms licence, such as for target shooting or hunting. In addition, there are different classes of firearms and licence and you must ensure that each firearm you obtain is within the scope of your licence.
All firearms must be registered with the authorities. As unregistered firearms are commonly used in conjunction with other criminal offences, the possession of an unregistered firearm carries a maximum penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment, or 14 years imprisonment if the firearm is a pistol or prohibited firearm.
As a firearms owner you have a number of responsibilities relating to the storage of your firearms. Different categories of firearms have different levels of storage requirements, however in general you must ensure that they are properly secured in a locked cabinet when not in use. Ammunition must also be stored in a locked container separately from firearms.
It is important that you comply with the requirements for the storage of your firearms and ammunition as the police can inspect your firearms storage area and any breaches of your obligations are a criminal offence. In addition, it could impact on your ability to retain your firearms licence and whether you are still considered to be a ‘fit and proper person’ as required to hold a firearms licence.
The unauthorised manufacturing of firearms is an extremely serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, or 20 years if the firearm manufactured is a prohibited firearm or a pistol.
Offences under this category are not limited to making firearms from scratch and can include the modification of existing firearms. In addition, there is not requirement that the firearm manufactured is in working order for you to be charged with this offence.
The possession of plans or blueprints setting out how to manufacture a firearms is also an offence, even if you have not began to manufacture any firearms themselves.
Unsurprisingly, the discharge of a firearm with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm to another person, or in an effort to resist arrest are offences that will see you at risk of serving a substantial period of imprisonment.
In addition, the discharge of firearms in a public place is prohibited, as is the possession of a loaded firearm in a public place whether the life of another person would be endangered.
The law relating to firearms is complex and lack of knowledge of the law will not offer you a defence to any offence that you are charged with. If you have been charged with a firearms offence, or have a current firearms licence and are unsure what your obligations are, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.