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Firearms & Weapons Offences in Victoria

In Victoria, the law strictly regulates the possession, use, purchase, manufacture and supply of firearms and associated components, and prohibited weapons, and imposes harsh penalties on persons charged under relevant legislation.

Firearms

There are many rules which govern the possession and use of firearms in Victoria, which if broken can result in being charged.

It is an offence in Victoria for a non-prohibited person to possess, carry or use a firearm unless you have a licence under the Firearms Act 1996 and the firearms in your possession are legally registered. The control of firearms possession and use is described under sections 6 and 7 of the Firearms Act 1996:

Section 6 – A non-prohibited person must not posses, carry or use a category A longarm that is registered unless that person does so under and in accordance with a licence issued under this Part.

Section 7 – A non-prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a registered general category handgun for purposes other than the purpose of collecting handguns, unless that person does so under and in accordance with a licence issued under Division 3 or 5 of this Part.

Put simply, a Category A firearm (section 7) is any firearm under 65cm in length from butt to muzzle, is easily concealable and can be fired from one hand (hence, handgun), and a longarm is any other firearm, including shotguns, rifles, or machine guns.

Firearm offences include:

Possessing a Firearm without a Proper License

In Victoria, it is an offence for a person to carry, possess, or use a firearm (including a longarm or a handgun) without an appropriate license under the Firearms Act (1996).

For a longarm, the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine up to 120 penalty units or 2 years’ imprisonment.

For a handgun, the maximum penalty for this offence is up to 240 penalty units or 4 years’ imprisonment.

Possessing an Unregistered Firearm

This offence is contained under sections 6A and 7A of the Firearms Act (1996).

Section 6A states that ‘a non-prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a category A or category B longarm that is not registered’. For a longarm, the maximum penalty for this offence is a fine up to 120 penalty units or 2 years’ imprisonment.

Section 7B states that a ‘person must possess, carry or use a general category handgun that is not registered’. For a handgun, the maximum penalty for this offence is up to 240 penalty units or 4 years’ imprisonment.

Possessing Cartridge Ammunition

Under section 124 of the Firearms Act (1996) it is an offence to possess cartridge ammunition unless:

  • the person is a holder of a license under the Act or a permit under section 58A;
  • the person is a holder of a license to keep explosives for sale and to sell explosives issued under the Dangerous Goods Act (1985); or
  • the person is not required to have a license under the Act in order to possess a firearm.

The maximum penalty under this offence is a fine of up to 40 penalty units.

Carrying or Use a Firearm in a Prohibited Place

Under section 130 of the Firearms Act (1996), it is prohibited to carry or use a loaded firearm in certain places. These places include:

  • A town;
  • A populous place;
  • Any thoroughfare; and
  • A place that is used by the public for passage with vehicles.

The maximum penalty under this offence is 10 years’ imprisonment.

Storing a Firearm or Ammunition in an Insecure Manner

Failure to safely store a firearm or ammunition is an offence under section 129A of the Firearms Act. Depending on whether or not the firearm was licensed and the person properly registered to hold the firearm, this offence carries a maximum penalty of 240 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment.

Prohibited Weapons

Possessing a Prohibited Weapon

Prohibited weapons are those weapons considered inappropriate for general possession listed in the Control of Weapons Act (1990). Special licenses may be obtained to possess these weapons. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Taser guns;
  • Martial arts weapons such as bo-chuks and nunchaku;
  • Daggers and flick knives;
  • Crossbows;
  • Non-metal or ceramic knives;
  • Throwing blades;
  • Noxious discharge devices, such as capsicum spray;
  • Extendable batons; and
  • Body armour.

If found in the possession of a prohibited weapon without a license, you may be charged with an offence under section 5 of the Control of Weapons Act (1990).

The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years’ imprisonment or 240 penalty units.

What if I’ve been charged with a firearms or weapons offence?

Contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Firearms and weapons offences carry stiff penalties and can result in criminal conviction and imprisonment. Garde-Wilson Lawyers have extensive experience defending persons charged under the Firearms Act and the Control of Weapons Act and have the legal expertise and courtroom knowledge to equip you with the best possible advocacy and representation. If you’ve been charged with a firearms or weapons offence, don’t delay – contact Garde-Wilson Lawyers for a confidential, no-obligations consultation to discuss your case.

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