NSW Firearms Licence Laws

Table Of Contents
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  1. Key Takeaways
  2. NSW Firearms Registry
  3. Firearms Licence NSW | Sentencing For Firearms Offences
  4. Firearms Permit NSW vs Firearms Licence NSW
  5. NSW Firearms Licence Application
  6. NSW Firearms Categories
  7. NSW Firearms Licence Genuine Reason
  8. Types of Firearm Permits
  9. Antique Firearms NSW
  10. Storage of Firearms NSW
  11. Transporting Firearms NSW | Safety Requirements
  12. NSW Firearms Licence Renewal
  13. When Can a Firearms Licence be Suspended or Revoked?
  14. Interstate Firearms Licence in NSW
  15. Firearms for self-defence or Protection
  16. Prohibited Firearms
  17. Penalty Notice Firearm Offences
  18. Shortened Firearms
  19. Firearms Prohibition Orders NSW
  20. Illegal Possession of Firearms
  21. NSW Firearms Amnesty

Key Takeaways

To possess or use a firearm in NSW requires a firearms licence or permit. It also requires a permit to acquire a firearm, and it requires the firearm(s) to be registered. Similarly, a permit is required to use or possess a prohibited weapon. Breach of the firearms or prohibited weapons laws result in heavy maximum penalties under the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) and Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW).

To get a firearms licence, you need to have a genuine reason. For certain firearms licences a special need is also required (This applies for licence categories B, C , D and H). To get a firearms permit, a legitimate reason is required. To get a permit for a prohibited weapons, a genuine reason is required.

Speak to our firearm lawyers Sydney team for advice if you’re charged with a firearm offence.

NSW Firearms Registry

All firearms must be registered. The NSW Police Commissioner keeps and maintains a firearms register which contains all details about the firearm, the person who it’s registered with, his/her personal contact details including residential address. These details can also include the name and contact details of who supplied the firearm.

When Can I Register the Firearm? 

Do I Need a Firearms Licence or Permit Before Registering a Firearm? A firearm cannot be registered unless you first have a valid firearms licence or permit for it.

Also, you may not be able to register the firearm unless its first been produced to a police officer for inspection.

How Many Firearms Can I Register?

Holders of a category C firearms licence can register no more than 1 rifle and no more than 1 shotgun to which the licence applies.

What are Your Obligations if Personal Details Have Changed?

Any changes to your personal details must be updated onto the register by contacting the NSW Police Commissioner in writing. Once the register is updated, you will be issued a notice of registration.

What is the Fee For Registering Firearms?

When applying to register a firearm, at the time of lodging the application for registration of a firearm, the applicable registration fee to register a firearm is $10.

Part 11 of the Firearms Regulations 2017 (NSW) outlines the specific fees.

Who Has Access to the Firearms Register Personal Details?

The firearms register together with all its personal details of those who are registered is available to other State and Territory government firearms authorities and the National Exchange of Police Information (NEPI) scheme. This means that it’s available to all police officers across Australia.

When Can a Firearms Registration Get Cancelled?

If your firearms registration gets cancelled by the Commissioner of Police, you will be issued a notice of cancellation in writing, according to section 35 Firearms Act. This can occur in any one or more of the following circumstances:

  • if you no longer hold a valid firearms licence or permit,
  • if you have provided a false or misleading statement in the registration application process,
  • if you get convicted of a firearms offence or any prescribed offence, including prohibited drugs, violence, sexual offence, fraud, stealing or dishonesty, robbery, affray, terrorism, organised criminal group, or consorting,
  • if you request for your registration to be cancelled.

The cancellation will take effect from the date you are served with the notice of cancellation. Once it gets cancelled, police are allowed to take your firearm from you.

NSW Firearms Registry Contact and Phone Number

NSW Police firearms registry contact details:

Name: NSW Police Force Firearms Registry

Postal Address: Locked Bag 5102, Parramatta NSW 2124

Telephone: 1300 362 562 (if calling from another State (02) 6670 8590)

Email: firearmsenq@police.nsw.gov.au

Website: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/online_services/firearms

You can apply online for a NSW firearms registry form.

Firearm Registration Offences in NSW

The criminal penalties range from 2-years imprisonment to 14-years imprisonment, and/or a $5,500 fine for offences relating to registration of firearms. These offences include the following:

  • section 36(1) Firearms Act: posses, supply or acquire an unregistered firearm: up to 14 years imprisonment if a Pistol; and up to 5 years imprisonment for any other firearm.

Defences: you did not know or could not reasonably be expected to have known that the firearm was unregistered provided you were not the owner if it at the time of the alleged offence.

Another defence that can apply to a licensed firearms dealer: if you acquire or possess an unregistered firearm but you have applied for registration if it within 24 hours from acquiring or taking possession of it.

You will also be not guilty of this offence if you’re a resident of another State or Territory if the firearm is registered under a law of the other State or Territory.

  • section 37 Firearms Act: failure to produce firearm for inspection to police when requested to do so at any reasonable time; or failure to notify police within 7 days after firearm is supplied, lost or stolen (with particulars of same); or failure to provide particulars to Commissioner of Police within 7 days after acquiring firearm: up to $5,500 fine.
  • section 38 Firearms Act: altering particulars of the notice of registration: up to 2 years imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine.

Firearms Licence NSW | Sentencing For Firearms Offences

Use or possession of a firearm in New South Wales requires a firearms licence or permit. The firearm must be registered, and you must also obtain a separate permit to be allowed to acquire a firearm, in accordance with the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) (the Firearms Act). Penalties for firearms offences can result in conviction and imprisonment in New South Wales.

The penalty for possession of illegal firearms carries similar maximum sentences. The firearms laws prescribe penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for possessing or using a “pistol” or “prohibited firearm” without a licence or permit under section 7 Firearms Act.

Possessing or using any other firearm without a licence or permit carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, under section 7A Firearms Act.

These penalties also apply if you use the firearm (or pistol or prohibited firearm) for a purpose other than that established as being the genuine reason for possessing or using it while holding a valid licence or permit. The same penalties also apply if you breach any of the licence conditions. It is highly recommended to get early advice from a firearms lawyer if faced with a firearms offence.

To get a “firearms licence” in New South Wales, you must have a “genuine reason” and under some licences (licence categories B, C, D and H) you must also have a “special need”.

If you’re unable to obtain a “firearms licence” due to failing to comply with the licence requirements or if you don’t fall within the prescribed “genuine reasons”, you may yet still be entitled to a “firearms permit” if you have a “legitimate reason” for possessing or using a firearm.

The New South Wales firearms licensing scheme has created different firearms licence categories. Each licence category allows you to have and use certain types of firearms for certain types of purposes if it falls within the prescribed “genuine reasons”. You must also show a “special need” for licence categories B, C, D or H.

Every firearm must be registered. In addition, you must also apply for and obtain a separate permit to acquire a firearm.

It is illegal to acquire a firearm without having a specific permit to acquire it. The maximum penalty for acquiring a firearm without an acquiring permit this offence is 14-years imprisonment (if the firearm is a pistol or prohibited firearm), otherwise 5-years imprisonment for any other firearm, prescribed by section 50 Firearms Act.

The same penalties apply for acquiring a firearm without having a licence or permit (to authorising you to possess one).

The same penalties also apply for giving possession of a firearm or firearm part to someone else who doesn’t have the authority to possess it under a licence or permit.

What is a Firearm?

A “Firearm” means a gun, or other weapon that’s capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosiveand includes a blank fire firearm, or an air gun, but does not include a paintball marker within the meaning of the Paintball Act 2018 or anything declared by the regulations not to be a firearm (s4 Firearms Act).

What is a “Prohibited Firearm”?

A “Prohibited Firearm” means a firearm described in schedule 1 Firearms Act and is outlined further into this article.

What is a “Pistol”?

A “Pistol” means firearm that’s reasonably capable of being raised and fired by one hand and is no more than 65cm in length overall (s4 Firearms Act).

What is a “Prohibited Pistol”?

Prohibited pistol” means a “pistol” with a calibre of more than .38inch; or a self-loading pistol with a barrel length of less than 120mm; or a revolver with a barrel length of less than 100mm; but does not include a black powder pistol (s4C Firearms Act)

What is an “Air Gun”?

A “Air gun” means a gun that can propel (or is designed to propel) a projectile by means of a spring, or by means of any gas or mixture of gases, including air but not including a gas or mixture of gases generated by an explosive; and is operated or designed for operation by means of a trigger or similar device (s4 Firearms Act).

Firearms Permit NSW vs Firearms Licence NSW

A “firearms licence” can only be issued if you are aged 18-years or over, be a NSW resident or about to be one, and if have a “genuine reason” (in addition to a “special need” for licence categories B, C, D or H) for possessing and using the firearm which must also fall within the prescribed licence categories (to reflect your purpose for the firearm). A “firearms permit” is a permit that allows you to possess and use a firearm for a purpose that a “firearms licence” doesn’t so long as it constitutes a “legitimate reason“. For example, a firearms permit can be issued to a minor aged under 18 (but no less than 12 years of age), or a competitive shooting overseas visitor, ammunitions collection, or for tv, movie, film or theatrical production purposes.

Examples of firearm permits includes an RSL display permit, safari tour permit, museum firearms permit, ammunitions permit or an international visitors competition permit.

To be authorised to possess and use a registered firearms or ammunition in NSW you must be authorised either under a “licence” or “permit”. 

NSW Firearms Licence Application

How do you get a NSW Firearms Licence or Permit?

Here’s what you must know if applying for a NSW firearms licence or permit. To get a firearms licence or permit, you must understand the NSW firearms laws. Firstly, you must apply for a licence to the Commissioner of Police with evidence to satisfy the conditions that must be met depending on the reason you need it. If applying for a firearms licence, amongst other conditions, you must demonstrate a “genuine reason”, and/or “special need” depending on the type of licence category. In the case of a firearms permit, you must show a “legitimate reason”.

What’s the fee for a firearms licence?

You must also pay the prescribed licence fee which ranges from $40 to $500. Generally, the application fee for category A, B, C, D or H licence is $100 for a 2-year period, or $200 for a 5-year period.

The applicable fee depends on the type of licence.

What’s the fee for a firearms permit?

To get a firearms permit, the application process is basically the same. The application permit fee ranged from $30 to $500, depending on the type of permit you apply for.

What’s the minimum age for a firearms licence?

To be able to apply for a firearms licence, you must be at least 18-years of age, and provide proof of your identification.

What’s the minimum age for a firearms permit?

The minimum age for a person to get a firearms permit is 12-years or more.

Firearms Safety Course NSW

Upon applying, you will be provided with details on requirements to undergo and complete any firearm safety training course(s) for the type of licence or permit that you’ve applied for. You will also be provided information on firearms storage and safety requirement. You can apply for a NSW firearms safety course online. The safety courses can be conducted by various clubs, including Tough Gear, Windsor Firearms, and Firearms Safety and Training.

Are my “spent convictions” disregarded when applying for a firearms licence?

Any spent convictions are taken into account and looked at by the Commissioner of Police when applying for a firearms licence in NSW.

What is a “spent conviction”? If you’ve ever received a criminal record (conviction) which has become “spent” after having completed a good behaviour bond non conviction (s10) or you’re at the end of at least 10 consecutive years without having a conviction from the date or your last conviction (crime-free period), then it is generally no longer seen as a criminal conviction and you’re not required to disclose it. This is reflected in section 10(4) Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).

NSW Firearms Licence or Permit Test

Sections 11, 12 and 29 Firearms Act outlines the following summarised pre-requisite conditions that must first be satisfied in order to get a firearms licence or permit:

  1. you must be a fit and proper person and as someone that can be trusted to have a firearms without danger to public safety or to the peace. Factors that will be considered in determining this include, your way of living, domestic circumstances, any prior suicide attempts or self-harm, or intemperate habits or being of unsound mind. You will be refused a firearms licence or permit if after assessing these factors, it raises reasonable cause to believe you may not personally exercise continuous and responsible control over the firearm(s).
  2. you must complete any requisite firearms training and safety course(s) (only if you have never held a licence),
  3. you must be capable of meeting the requisite storage and safety requirements,
  4. you must be an NSW resident or you’re about to be one,
  5. for firearms licences only: you must be at least aged 18 years,
  6. for firearms permit only: you must be at least 12-years of age,
  7. you must have no prior criminal conviction record within the last 10-years,
  8. you must not be or have in the past 10-years been subject to an apprehended violence order or interim AVO (unless it was revoked),
  9. you must not currently be subject to a good behaviour bond (or a community correction order or conditional release order) as a result of having committed a prescribed criminal offence such as drugs, certain assaults, intimidation, sexual offences, fraud, dishonesty or stealing.
  10. you must not be subject to a firearms prohibition order,
  11. you must not be a registrable person under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW),
  12. you must not be considered in the opinion of the Commissioner of Police to be a risk to public safety. The factors considered in determining this includes any criminal intelligence report or other criminal information held about you,
  13. you must not be considered someone to whom issuing a firearms licence or permit will be contrary to public interest. The factors considered in determining this includes any criminal intelligence report or other criminal information held about you,
  14. for firearm licences only: you must have a “genuine reason” for possessing or using the firearm from the list outlined in the Table to section 12 Firearms Act. This includes, sport or target shooting, recreational hunting, vermin control, pest animal control, business or employment, animal welfare, firearms collection, primary production. Self-defence or personal protection or to protect someone else is not considered a “genuine reason”. Licence categories B, C, D and H also require a “special need“. This only applies to a firearms licence.
  15. for firearm permits only: you must have a “legitimate reason” for possessing or using the firearm from what’s outlined in the Firearms Act and Regulations, including Part 6 Firearms Regulation 2017 (NSW).

A firearms permit does not allow you to have or use a pistol for purposes of pest animal control or farming or grazing activities unless you can produce medical evidence of a medical condition or disability that prevents you from using a rifle or shotgun. If you are authorised to use and have a pistol due to this, then your licence to use and have a rifle or shotgun will be revoked, and you will be required to hand this into police immediately.

A firearm generally cannot be obtained or used for protection or self-defence purposes.

In summary, you must provide evidence to prove the genuine reason(s)/special need (for licences) or legitimate reasons (for permits) by producing evidence. For example, a genuine reason for a sport or target shooting firearms licence may be established by showing evidence of current membership of an approved shooting club which conducts competitions requiring use of the firearm under the applied firearms licence.

Definition of “Legitimate Reasons”

“Legitimate reasons” include the collection of firearms by a public museum if it has genuine commemorative, historical, thematic or financial value; production permit used in film, TV, or theatrical production; international visitors competition permit; tranquilliser firearm permit necessary as part of your occupation; safari tour or hunting permit; historical Re-enactment organiser’s permit; Historical cannon permit to preserve, demonstrate historical weapons, starting pistol permit, arms fair permit, scientific purposes permit, RSL display permit, ammunition collection permit, ammunition permit, and large calibre pistol permit.

A legitimate reason is only required to be demonstrated if you are applying for a firearms permit.

Definition of “Special Need”

“Special need” (in addition to “genuine reason”) is only required to be demonstrated if applying for licence categories B, C, D or H. The Commissioner is given broad discretion as to what constitutes “special need”. It includes more unique circumstances that causes a need for the particular type of firearms you’re applying for. For example, for Category C licence firearms, a special need can include the size of the rural property concerned or because the licensee is involved with more than one rural property warranting permission to have more than the prescribed number of firearms/type of firearms under that licence category. A special need can be established by showing the reason why you cannot use a category A licence firearm, and why it would be more appropriate to use a category B licence firearm  when applying for a category B licence. The circumstances explaining why need to be demonstrated.

Conditions of Keeping a Firearms Licence

Amongst the conditions you must comply with to keep a firearms licence, the following are some

of the mains conditions to comply with, according to section 19 Firearms Act:

  • you must comply with the safe keeping and storage requirements,
  • you must not allow anyone else to possess or use the firearm in your possession if the other person isn’t authorised to,
  • you must generally allow a police officer to inspect your storage and safe keeping facilities,
  • you must not possess any amount of ammunition that exceeds the amount your allowed,
  • you must not transfer your licence to someone else.

NSW Firearms Categories

The 7 main firearms licence categories are category A, B, C, D, H, in addition to firearms dealer licence, and firearms collectors licence.

Each firearms licence category allows certain types of firearms to be used under its licence, in addition to the purpose it can be possessed or used for (to reflect the purpose established by the licensee as being the “genuine reason” for possessing or using it according to section 8 of Division 2 of the Firearms Act).

Firearms licence categories are:

Category A Firearms Licence: you must have a “genuine reason” to use or possess any of the following types of registered firearms under this licence:

  • air rifle
  • rimfire rifle (not self-loading)
  • shotgun (not a pump action, lever action or self-loading)
  • shotgun/rimfire rifle combination

Prohibited firearms are excluded for Category A licences.

Category B Firearms Licence: you must have a “genuine reason” and a “special need” to use or possess any of the following types of registered firearms under this licence:

  • muzzle-loading firearms (not a pistol)
  • centre-fire rifles (not self-loading)
  • shotgun/centre-fire rifle combinations
  • lever action shotgun with a magazine capacity of 5 or less

Prohibited firearms are excluded for Category B Licences.

Category C Firearms Licence: you must have a “genuine reason” (for primary production on land used for primary production owned or occupied by you) and a “special need” (which can’t be met by a category A or B licence) to use or possess any of the following types of registered firearms under this licence:

  • self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds (no more than 1 registered self-loading rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity of no more than 10 rounds)
  • self-loading shotgun with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds (no more than one registered shotgun to which this licence applies)
  • pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity of no more than 5 rounds (no more than one registered shotgun to which this licence applies)

This licence can also apply to clay target shooting purposes under a special category C licence in limited circumstances outlined in section 17A Firearms Act.

The Category C licence excludes any self-loading shotgun of a kind that’s designed or adapted for military purposes, any firearm to which there’s attached any article or device capable of muffling, reducing, or stopping the noise created by firing it, or any firearm fitted with a stock that’s specially designed to be readily detachable or to operate on a swivel, folding it telescope basis (not a pistol).

Category D Firearms Licence: to possess or use any of the following types of registered firearms under this licence, you must have a “genuine reason” (of vertebrate pest animal control) and a “special need” (which can’t be met under a category A, B or C licence or by engaging services of a professional contract shooter:

  • self-loading centre-fire rifle
  • self-loading rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds
  • self-loading shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds
  • pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds
  • lever action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds
  • any firearm to which a category C licence applies

If you have a medical condition or disability preventing you from using any of the above types of firearms, you can apply for a permit to have and use a pistol for purposes of hunting, farming or grazing activities, including the control or suppression of vermin or pest animals or fishing, or destruction of diseased or injured animals (according to clause 11(2) Firearms Regulations).

The Category D licence excludes, any self-loading centre-fire rifle of a kind that’s designed or adapted for military purposes, shotgun fitted with or designed to be fitted with a drum magazine of the “Striker 12” assault shotgun type or any similar weapon, self-loading shotgun of a kind that’s designed or adapted for military purposes, any firearm to which there’s attached any article or device capable of muffling, reducing, or stopping the noise created by firing it, or any firearm fitted with a stock that’s specially designed to be readily detachable or to operate on a swivel, folding or telescope basis (not a pistol)

The Category D licence type allows you to possess or use no more than 3 registered firearms permitted under this licence and only on the rural property specified in the licence if the genuine reason for possessing or using a firearm is of vertebrate pest animal control and:

  • you’re in the occupation business of a primary producer, or who’s the owner, lessee or manager of land used for primary production, and who’s participating in an authorised campaign conducted by or on behalf of a government agency or public authority to eradicate large feral animals or animals that are affected by brucellosis or tuberculosis, or
  • you’re a professional contract shooter engaged or employed in controlling vertebrate pest animals on rural land, or
  • you’re employed or authorised by a government agency that has functions relating to the control or suppression of vertebrate pest animals.

Category H Firearms Licence NSW (Pistols)this licence allows you to possess or use a pistol (including a blank fire pistol and air pistol but not a prohibited firearm) if you have a “genuine reason” (of sport/target shooting, business or employment, or firearms collection) and you have a “special need” to possess or use it for that purpose.

A category H licence for sport or target shooting does not allow for the possession or use of a “prohibited pistol”. 

A category H licence allows you to possess or use an “antique revolver” (within the meaning of section 6A of Firearms Act). This does not allow you to have or use a “prohibited pistol”.

A category H licence for sport, target shooting or business or employment purposes cannot be issued to you unless:

  • you’ve previously been issued with a “probationary pistol licence”, and
  • the probationary pistol licence has expired, and
  • for sport/target shooting licences, you must have a written statement by the office holder of the pistol shooting club confirming that you have complied with section 16A(2) Firearms Act conditions (to not possess or use a pistol for the first 6 months unless you’re on a pistol shooting club premises and under the supervision of a category H (sport/target shooting) licence that’s not a probationary pistol licence; and within that 6 month period, you’ve completed the required firearm training and safety training course(s) by the pistol shooting club of which you’re a member).

Click here for all the legal information you need to know about Imitation Firearms laws and penalties in NSW.

Getting a Provisional Pistol Licence

In order to obtain a “provisional pistol licence” for business or employment, you must:

  • intend to be employed by an approved master licensee for the term of the licence, and
  • the approved master licensee must verify that he/she intends the employment to continue for the term of the licence, according to section 16 Firearms Act.
  • You must also comply with the conditions outlined in section 16A and 16C Firearms Act.

In order to obtain a “provisional pistol licence” for business or employment purposes, you must:

  • complete an approved firearms training course conducted by the employer, and
  • complete further training within 3 months of being granted the licence and such other training that may be required, and
  • hold a class 1F licence issued under section 11 Security Industry Act 1997, and
  • in the first 6 months of the licence, you must not possess or use a pistol unless under the direct supervision of a person who has continuously held a full category H business/employment licence and class 1F licence for over 12 months.

Firearms Dealer NSW Licence: this licence allows you or your employees or directors who are eligible for a licence and have written authorisation by the Commissioner of Police, to possess, manufacture, convert, acquire, supply, repair, maintain or test, in the course of carrying business as a firearms dealer any firearm to which this licence applies, and only on premises specified in the licence.

This licence also allows you to possess, manufacture, acquire or supply ammunitions for those firearms as well.

You will not be allowed to have a firearms dealer licence if:

  • anyone who is a close associate of you is not considered a fit and proper person to be “a close associate” of you, or
  • you are not primarily responsible for the management of the business to be carried on under the authority of the licence.

A “close associate” includes anyone who holds a relevant financial interest or is entitled to exercise any relevant power in the business, and because of that he/she is able to exercise significant influence over the conduct of the business. It also includes anyone who holds any relevant position in the business.

If you’re a club armourer, the firearms dealer licence can allow you to possess, manufacture, convert, acquire, supply, repair, maintain or test in the capacity as a club armourer the firearms to which this licence applies, but only in the premises specified in the licence. This licence includes authorisation to possess, manufacture, acquire or supply ammunition for those firearms.

If you’re a theatrical armourer, the firearms dealer licence can allow you to possess, use, manufacture, convert, acquire, supply, repair, maintain or test firearms (including blank cartridges for those firearms) in your capacity as a theatrical armourer. This extends to any employees who’s authorised in writing by the Commissioner of Police.

Firearms Collector Licence: this licence allows you to possess the firearms to which this licence applies for purposes of firearms collection.

Post-1946 pistols and any “prohibited firearms” (except prohibited firearms permitted under a category C or D licence) are not included in this licence category. 

However, a firearms collector licence to have a post-1946 pistol(s) can be obtained if you produce evidence that you’ve been a member of a collectors’ society or club for at least one year, and you have a written stamens by an office holder of the collectors’ society or club which you’re a member of confirming that this type of pistol had a genuine commemorative, historical, thematic or financial value, according to section 17C Firearms Act.

The conditions a firearms collector licence must comply with are also outlined in section 20 Firearms Act.

If you have a medical condition or disability preventing you from using any of the above types of firearms under licences A, B, C, D or H, you can apply for a permit to have and use a pistol for purposes of hunting, farming or grazing activities, including the control or suppression of vermin or pest animals or fishing, or destruction of diseased or injured animals (according to clause 11(2) Firearms Regulations).

NSW Firearms Licence Genuine Reason

The following are “genuine reasons” to be allowed to have a firearms licence, according to the Table in section 12 Firearms Act:

  • Firearms Collection: you must be a current approved member of a collectors’ society or club and provide a written statement by them confirming that your firearms collection has a genuine commemorative, historical, thematic or financial value.
  • Sport or Target Shooting: you must be a member of an approved shooting club which conducts competitions or activities requiring the use of the firearm for which the licence is sought
  • Recreational Hunting or Vermin Control: you must be either the owner or occupier of rural land; or produce proof of permission by the owner of the same or by an officer or employee of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Industry or other authority to shoot on rural land; or produce proof of permission given by a land manager within the meaning of the Forestry Act 2012 to shoot on land in respect of which the land manager is authorised to exercise functions as land manager under that Act; or be a current member of a hunting club approved by the Commissioner of Police.
  • Primary Production: your occupation must be in the business of a primary producer, or an owner, lessee or manager of land used for primary production; and you must have the intention to use the firearm solely for farming or grazing activities (including suppression of vertebrate pest animals in the land).
  • Vertebrate Pest Animal Control: you must be a professional contract shooter or employer in controlling these types of pest animals on rural land; or be employed to do the same by a government agency; or your occupation is in the business of a primary producer (or an owner, lessee or manager of land used for primary production), and you’re participating in an authorised campaign conducted by a government agency or public authority to eradicate large feral animals or animals that are affected by brucellosis or tuberculosis.
  • Business or Employment: you must be employed or engaged in a rural occupation that requires the possession or use of the firearm sought under the licence.
  • Occupational Requirements Relating to Rural Purposes: you must be employed or engaged in a rural occupation that requires the possession or use of the firearm sought under the licence.
  • Animal Welfare: you must be a vet, or officer of the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League appointed by the Minister administering the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 as an officer for purposes of that Act or employed in the Department of Industry or a member of staff of Local Land Services with responsibility for animal welfare, or an owner, transporter, drover or other handler of animals who may need to destroy animals to avoid suffering.

Types of Firearm Permits

There are 18 types of firearm permits each serving a different purpose that it permits the permit holder to have or use it for under Part 6 Firearms Regulations:

  • Large Calibre Pistol Permit: this permit allows you to have and use a large calibre pistol. A “large calibre pistol” is any pistol with a calibre of over .38 inch but no more than .45 inch, which is otherwise not a “prohibited pistol”.
    Requirements: you must hold a full category H sports/target shooting licence, intend to use it for specialised shooting competition participation, and you must obtain a certificate from the pistol shooting club to the effect that this type of pistol is required to participate in the specialised shooting competition.
  • Ammunition Permit: this permit allows you to acquire or possess ammunition for the type of firearm specified in the permit. Requirements: you must be employed by a person in whose name a firearm of the kind specified in the permit is registered or you must carry on business in partnership with a person who does; and it is part of your duties in the course of your employment or business to acquire ammunition for use in such firearms.
  • Ammunition Collection Permit: this permit allows you to acquire or possess ammunition for the collection or ammunition. Requirements: the ammunition must be re deter inert (except for sporting or military ammunition if UN Harvard Classification Code 1.4S up to 20mm calibre); the ammunition must not contain high explosive, smoke, chemical or lachrymatory properties or agents, and it must be safely stored in an approved manner.
  • RSL Display Permit: this permit allows an RSL, club or association to possess and display a firearm or a kind or that’s been used as a war weapon. This permit also authorised what an ammunition collection permit allows with the same such conditions.
    Requirements: the firearm can only be displayed on premises or place specified in the permit; it must be rendered permanently inoperative (if it’s a prohibited firearm); it must be rendered temporarily inoperable by removing the bolt or firing mechanism and keeping it separate from the firearm in an approved locked container or by using an approved trigger lock (for non-prohibited firearms); the Police Commissioner may impose certain security conditions.
  • Scientific Purpose Permit: this permit allows you to have and use a firearm to which the permit allows in order to conduct legitimate scientific research.
    Requirements: the scientific research must be a legitimate scientific research (does not include research about firearms other than research of forensic investigation or examination in relation to legal proceedings); and the firearm sought for this must be necessary  to conduct that research. 
  • Arms Fair Permit: this permit allows you as a licensed firearms dealer or club official to conduct an arms fair on premises specified in the permit. This also allows you, to supply any firearms or firearms parts or ammunition for those firearms; to exhibit firearms in the firearms collection at the arms fair; to acquire or possess ammunition at the fair.
    Requirements: you must comply with the firearm safe keeping requirements and the usual supply (or supply of firearm parts or ammunition) of firearms requirements in addition to the following:
  • the premises must be a suitable for an arms fair having regard to the nature of the activities, kinds of firearms incl Ed, any adequate provisions for safe keeping of firearms with a safe or strongroom or otherwise and security against unauthorised entry; all firearms or other articles on display must be kept and displayed in a safe and secure manner.
  • Starting Pistol Permit: this permit allows you to have and use this type of pistol for sporting or other approved events. A “starting pistol” is a pistol that uses blank cartridges only.
  • Permit for Powerhead For Shark Attack Protection: this permit allows you to possess and use a powerhead to protect yourself or anyone else against shark attacks. A “powerhead” is a device capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive and is designed to be attached to the end of a spear gun for use in underwater spear fishing (this is considered a “prohibited firearm”).
    Requirements: you must be involved in activities that’s reasonably likely to require you to protect yourself or others against shark attacks in the course of your business or employment.
  • Historical Cannon Permit: this permit allows you to possess and use a muzzle-loading black powder cannon.
    Requirements: you must be a member of an historical society or club whose purpose includes the preservation and demonstration of historical weapons. You must also comply with the use and safekeeping conditions of the cannon.
  • Historical Re-enactment Organiser’s Permit: this permit allows you to organise and conduct historical re-enactment events involving firearms, and also allows you to use and possess a firearm allowed under this permit to participate in historical re-enactment events.
    Requirements: you must not use a prohibited firearm (unless it’s an imitation prohibited firearm); and you must notify the police officer in charge of the nearest police station to the place the historical re-enactment event is to be conducted not less than 7 days before the event; you must not use ammunition in any firearms (can use blank cartridges if in front of an invited audience or place away from public view).
  • Safari or Hunting Participation Permit: This permit allows you to have and use a firearm (only category A or B firearms) for purposes of participating in a safari tour conducted by a safari tour permit or in hunting activities organised by an approved hunting club. One safari firearms in Sydney are the Safari firearms Bexley NSW, which is an approved hunting club.
    Requirements: you can get this permit if you’re not an Australian resident, and you’re visiting or intending to visit NSW for safari or hunting participation; you must show evidence that you’d be otherwise ordinarily allowed to use and possess a firearm of a category A or B firearm under the law of the country you ordinarily reside in.
  • Safari Tour Permit: this permit allows you to conduct organised safari tours involving firearms (only category A or B firearms) and allows you to possess and use those firearms for organised safari tours.
    Requirements: you must show evidence of permission from the owner of the land you intend to conduct safari tours on.
  • Tranquilliser Firearm Permit: this permit allows you to possess or use a tranquilliser firearm for the necessary part of your occupation or for providing an approved training course. This permit also allows you to have and use this type of firearm for purposes of undertaking such a course.
    A “tranquilliser firearm” is a firearm designed to use in tranquillising, immobilising or administering vaccines or other medicines to animals.
  • International Visitors Competition Permit: this permit allows a person who is not an Australian resident, who’s visiting or intending to visit NSW to compete in a firearms competition to possess and use a firearm for that purpose. This does not include prohibited firearms (unless it’s a self-loading or pump action shotgun used in clay target shooting competitions).
    This permit generally remains valid for a 3 month period.
  • Film, TV or Theatrical Production Permit: this permit allows you to have and use a firearm to use in a film, television or theatrical production involving firearms.
    Requirements: there must be a requirement to use/have the firearm for production; you must have adequate training concerning the security and safe handling of the firearm; there must be adequate security maintained over the firearms at all times; and the permit holder must subversive all handling of the firearm by those people authorised to under this permit. The firearm must be maintained in a safe condition; it must also be certified, by a licensed theatrical armourer who’s proficient in firearms modification, as being a firearm the chamber of which has been modified to allow only blank cartridges to be used in the firearm.
  • Museum Firearm Permit: this permit allows you to possess firearms and any related ammunition on premises of the public museum for purposes of the operations of the museum, namely, for the collection of the firearms which has a genuine commemorative, historical, thematic or financial value.
    Requirements: any pistol or prohibited firearm must be rendered permanently inoperable; any other firearm must be rendered temporarily inoperable; you must allow a police officer to inspect the storing and safe keeping of the firearms and ammunition. 
  • Heirloom Permit: this permit allows you to possess a firearm as a heirloom (inheritance). This permit does not allow you to possess ammunition.
    Requirements: the firearm must have been inherited by you within 6 months from the application of this permit; and the firearm must be rendered permanently inoperable. 
  • Permit to Acquire Non-prohibited Firearm when Leaving Australia: this permit allows you to acquire a firearm (not a prohibited firearm) if you’re about to leave Australia, by having the firearm in the custody of a licensed firearms dealer or customs authority; this remains in force generally for 7 days.

Antique Firearms NSW

A firearms licence or permit is not required for purposes of possessing/having an antique firearm. An antique firearm is also not required to be registered. However, if you intend to use this type of firearm, a licence or permit is required, according to section 6A Firearms Act. This exemption does not apply to an antique revolver or firearm part of an antique revolver.

What is an “antique firearm”?

The definition or meaning of an antique firearm means any firearm manufactured before 1900 that’s not capable of discharging breech-loaded metallic cartridges or is a firearm the ammunition for which is determined by the NSW Police Commissioner to be ammunition that’s not commercially available, or if the firearm is a pistol, if the pistol isn’t capable of discharging breach-loaded metallic cartridges.

What an “antique revolver”?

An antique revolver means an antique firearm that’s a percussion lock pistol equipped with a revolving cylinder.

Storage of Firearms NSW

Firearms licence or permit holders must strictly comply with the safe firearms storage NSW laws. It is illegal to fail to comply attracting maximum penalties ranging from 12 months to 2 years imprisonment and/or fines ranging from $2,200 to $5,500.

The firearms safe storage requirements include:

  • You must take all reasonable precautions to ensure the firearm is safely kept, not stolen or lost, and that it doesn’t come into the possession of anyone who isn’t authorised to possess it. The penalty for the failure to complywith this carries up to 2-years jail and/or $5,500 fine if the firearm is a prohibited firearm or pistol. Otherwise, for any other firearm, it attracts up to 12-months jail and/or $2,200 fine.
  • For holders of firearm licence categories A and B: when the firearm is not being carried or used, you must store it in a locked receptacle of an approved type that’s constructed of hard wood or steel and not easily penetrable; if the receptacle weighs less than 150kg when empty, it must be fixed to prevent its easy removal; the locks of it must be of an approved solid metal; the ammunition for the firearm must be stored in an approved locked container and kept separate from the receptacle containing the firearm. The penalty for the failure to complycarries up to 12-months jail and/or $2,200 fine.
  • For holders of firearm licences categories C, D and H: when the firearm is not being carried or used, it must be stored in an approved locked steel safe that cannot be easily penetrated; the safe must be bolted to the structure of the premises where it’s authorised to be kept; any ammunition for the firearm must be stored in an approved locked container and kept separate from the safe containing the firearm. The penalty for the failure to complywith this carries up to 2-years jail and/or $5,500 fine.
  • For firearms licence or permit holders generally, you must not store the firearm in a “dwelling” unless it’s an “inhabited dwelling”: which means a dwelling which is the principal place of residence of any person with or without a licence or permit or a dwelling at which any person with or without a licence or permit resides while the firearm is stored there. The penalty for breaching thiscarries up to a $5,500 fine if it’s a prohibited firearm or pistol, and up to $2,200 fine if it’s any other firearm, according to section 28B(1) Firearms Act.

However, a licence or permit holder can store the firearms on premises (instead of a dwelling house) if:

  • The premises is in a proximity to an inhabited dwelling that allows the premises to be easily observed by the licence or permit holder or by a person on behalf of that person from the inhabited dwelling, or
  • A licences firearms dealer has the firearm stored on commercial premises from which he/she carries on business as a firearms dealer, or
  • The firearm is stored in an approved save, fitted with a trigger or barrel lock preventing the firearm from being discharged, and is secured individually on or in a locked device within the safe, and provided the safe is fitted with an approved alarm that’s monitored off-site and the premises is stored with an approved intruder alarm and duress facility that’s monitored off-site.

The penalties for a failure to comply with this attracts up to a $5,500 fine for prohibited firearm or pistol, and up to $2,200 fine for any other firearm.

Other consequences if you fail to comply with safe storage requirements include:

  • Police are required to seize the firearm or ammunition that the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe is not being kept in accordance with these requirements unless, the officer is satisfied that the failure has been rectified or will be rectified without delay. This doesn’t prevent you from being prosecuted or being issued with a penalty notice according to section 42 Firearms Act.
  • If you hold a firearm as a security guard employer: police can at any time, enter premises of a master licensee whose licences with firearms for purposes of security business, and police are allowed to inspect the firearm and the security and safe storage of them. The penalty for hindering, obstructing or interfering with police in doing this carries up to a $5,500 fine.

Transporting Firearms NSW | Safety Requirements

When transporting a prohibited firearm or pistol (other than being engaged in the transportation of goods) you must comply with the following safety requirements, according to clause 148 Firearms Regulations:

  • The firearm must not be loaded with any ammunition while being conveyed and it must be kept separate from any ammunition,
  • While the firearm is being conveyed, it must be rendered temporarily incapable of being fired i.e. by removing the bolt or the firing mechanism or by using a restraining device such as a trigger lock, or it must be kept in a locked container that’s properly secured to (or within) the vehicle being used for transporting the firearm.
  • When transporting firearms relating to a category A or B licence and you possess the authority for either of those categories or a firearms collector licence (other than being engaged in the transportation of goods), you must comply with the following safety requirements according to clause 149 Firearms Regulation:
  • The firearm must be conveyed in a manger that ensures you’ve taken reasonable precautions to ensure its safe keeping, that it’s not stolen or lost and that it doesn’t come into possession someone who isn’t authorised to, and
  • The firearm must not be loaded with ammunition while being conveyed, and
  • While the firearm is being conveyed in a vehicle, it must not be visible from outside the vehicle.

The above safety requirements when transporting does not apply to you if you’re a primary producer, an employee or contractor to a primary producer, or employed by the Local Land Services, the Border Fence Maintenance Board or the department of Planning, Industry and Environment, if during the course of conveyance, there’s a reasonable likelihood that the firearm will be required for purposes of killing vermin or stock.

When transporting firearms while engaged in the business of transporting goods, you must comply with the following safety requirements, according to clause 147 Firearms Regulation:

  • The firearm must be stored in a secured locked container secured to the vehicle, or a locked compartment within the vehicle, and it must not be able to be seen while it’s being conveyed, and
  • All reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure that the firearm is not lost or stolen while being conveyed.

Breach of the above safety requirements when transporting firearms carries penalties of up to $5,500 fine.

NSW Firearms Licence Renewal

Here we outline when a firearms licence or permit expires? And you must renew a firearms licence in NSW. Firearms licences are usually valid for 5 years from date of issue unless it is revoked or surrendered or ceases to be in force sooner, according to section 21(1) Firearms Act.

Category D firearms licence for purposes of vertebrate pest animal control is valid for no more than 12 months unless it is revoked or surrendered or ceases to be in force sooner.

Provisional pistol licence for business or employment and probationary pistol licences are valid for 12 months from date of issue unless sooner revoked, surrendered or otherwise ceases to be in force.

If you’re applying for a firearms category licence A, B, C, D, H or a firearms collector licence (part of a composite licence), you can apply for a 2 year licence (instead of the usual 5 years). This does not apply to Category D licences for vertebrate pest animal control or probationary pistol licences.

Firearm permits are valid for 5 years from date of issue unless sooner revoked, surrendered or otherwise ceases to be in force.

When Can a Firearms Licence be Suspended or Revoked?

Your firearms licence will be suspended if:

  • The Commissioner of Police is satisfied that there may be grounds for revoking your licence, or
  • The Commissioner of Police is satisfied that there may be grounds for revoking your licence due to any criminal intelligence report or other criminal information held about you concerning a risk to public safety causing the licence being contrary to public interest, or
  • You’ve been charged (even if not convicted) with a domestic violence offenceor if there’s reasonable cause to believe that you’ve committed  (or threatened to commit) a domestic violence offence.
  • If you have an interim Apprehended Violence Orderagainst you your licence is automatically suspended (at least until the AVO is confirmed or revoked) according to section 23 Firearms Act.

Your firearms licence will (and in some cases may) be revoked if:

  • You are subject to a firearms prohibition order or an apprehended violence order, or
  • If you’re an armed security guard with a firearms licence for purposes of employment and you’ve failed to undertake any firearm safety training required or in the face of holding a class 1F licence or visitor permit to carry security activities authorised by the 1F licence and the 1F licence or visitor permit is revoked or you breach any condition of the firearms licence, or
  • Any other reason for which the firearms licence would be required to be refused a licence of the same kind i.e. section 11 Firearms Act reasons, or
  • You’ve supplied information regarding your licence application which you knew is false or misleading in a material particular, or
  • You’ve breached any of the Firearms Act or regulations provisions, whether or not convicted for it, or
  • You’ve breached any firearms licence condition,
  • You are no longer considered a fit and proper person to hold the firearms licence, or
  • It is not in the public interest for you to continue holding the licence according to clause 20 Firearms Regulations.
  • According to clause 21 Firearms Regulation, a firearms permit “may” be revoked if you become subject to an AVO; you no longer have a legitimate reason to have or use the firearm or ammunition; or it’s not in the public interest for you to hold the permit; or for any reason for which you would be required to be refused a permit i.e. section 29 Firearms Act reasons, or
  • A firearms permit will be automatically revoked if you become subject to a firearms prohibition order according to section 30(3A) Firearms Act, or
  • According to section 30(4) Firearms Act, a firearms permit can be revoked or suspended for any reasons that a firearms licence may be suspended or revoked under the Firearms Act outlined in sections 22, 23 and 24 Firearms Act.

If you’re licence is to be revoked, you will receive a notice of revocation with reasons for revoking it. The licence revocation takes effect from date of being served the revocation notice or a later date specified in the notice. This does not prevent a further notice being issued cancelling the notice of revocation before the revocation takes effect.

What to do after my firearms licence is suspended or revoked?

You must immediately surrender your firearm(s) and licence to a police officer after your firearms licence gets suspended, revoked or otherwise ceases to be in force. The penalty for the failure to do this attracts up to 2-years jail and/or $5,500 fine prescribed by section 25(1) Firearms Act.

Can police take my firearm?

A police officer is authorised to seize any firearm(s) and licence in your possession if your firearms licence is suspended, revoked or otherwise ceases to be in force. This does not apply if your licence has expired, but your subsequent licence determination is pending while your existing licence continues to have effect.

How to Get Back Seized Firearms or Weapons?

The court can order for a seized firearm to be returned back to the owner, or be forfeited and destroyed, or the court may otherwise dispose of it in such manner it thinks fit according to section 80 Firearms Act. The court can do this either on the application of a police officer or by the person who claims to own the firearm.

If a firearm is seized due to a failure to comply with the safe storage requirements under Part 4 of the Firearms Act, then the firearm will automatically be forfeited to the Crown and may then be destroyed.  This includes a firearm part of ammunition.

Similar provisions apply to prohibited weapons, however, the court may also order that it be sold, and for the owner of it to receive the proceeds of the sale, according to section 40 Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW).

Interstate Firearms Licence in NSW

You may be exempt from being required to hold a firearms licence or permit in NSW if you are an interstate resident or you’re moving to NSW from another State or Territory and hold an equivalent NSW firearms licence for certain purposes outlined below.

Are Interstate Firearms Licences Recognised in NSW?

Interstate holders of an equivalent category A, B, or H firearms licence issued by another State or Territory of Australia are not required to obtain a NSW firearms licence or permit if the purpose of it is to participate in an approved shooting competition, according to section 26(1) Firearms Act.

Interstate holders of an equivalent category C firearms licence issued by another State or Territory are not required to obtain a NSW firearms licence or permit if:

  • if the purpose is for farming or grazing activities including suppression of vertebrate pest animals on land, or
  • if the purpose is a professional contract shooter engaged or employed in controlling vertebrate pest animal on rural land, or
  • if the purpose is participation in a recognised clay target shooting competition and the firearm is self-loading or pump action shotgun provided section 17A(2) are complied with requiring that the shotgun must notbe loaded at any one time with more than two rounds, is only used for shooting at clay targets and for associated training program while on an approved shooting range.

Interstate Firearm Licence Holders Moving to NSW

Is an interstate firearms licence recognised and valid if you move to NSW? The short answer is yes, but you must still eventually apply for and obtain a NSW firearm licence because your interstate licence will only be valid and in force for a limited period of time provided you notify the Commissioner of Police in writing according to section 27 Firearms Act.

If you’re an interstate resident who holds an equivalent category A, B, C, D or H firearms licence who is permanently moving to NSW, you may notify the Commissioner of Police in writing, in which case the following applies:

  • Your interstate equivalent category A or B firearm licence will be recognised as the corresponding licence in force in NSW for 3 months from date of notifying the Commissioner or until the application for a licence is granted or refused (whichever is sooner).
  • The equivalent category C, D or H firearm licence holders will have their interstate firearms licence recognised as the corresponding licence in force in NSW for 7 days from the date of notifying the Commissioner. If the 7-days have expired, but you’ve applied for a firearms licence in NSW before the 7 days expired, you will be permitted to possess the firearm while your NSW firearms licence application is being determined.

Firearms for self-defence or Protection

A “firearms licence” is not available for protection or self-defence purposes in New South Wales, according to section 12 Firearms Act.

A firearms permit can also be refused by the Commissioner of Police on discretionary grounds if you want the firearm for self-defence or protection purposes, or for protecting property, according to clause 12(2) Firearms Regulations.

Prohibited Firearms

Prohibited firearms are considered amongst the most dangerous of firearms recognised under the law. Accordingly, they have more rules around them.

The following are “prohibited firearms” in NSW:

  • machine gun, sub-machine gun or other firearm capable of propelling projectiles in rapid succession during one pressure of the trigger (or firearm that substantially duplicates this in appearance regardless of calibre or manner of operation),
  • self-loading rimfire rifle,
  • self-loading centre-fire rifle,
  • self-loading or pump action shotgun,
  • lever action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds,
  • self-loading centre-fire rifle of a kind designed or adapted for military purposes (or firearm that substantially duplicates this in appearance regardless of calibre or manner of operation),
  • self-loading shotgun of a kind designed or adapted for military purposes (or firearm that substantially duplicates this in appearance regardless of calibre or manner of operation)
  • a firearm not being a pistol of the Uberti or Armi-Jager brands, or any similar firearm fitted with a revolving ammunition cylinder (other than a firearm manufactured before 1920),
  • a shotgun fitted with or designed to be fitted with a drum magazine of the “Striker 12” assault shotgun type or any similar weapon,
  • any firearm to which there’s attached any article or device capable of muffling, reducing or stopping the noise created by firing the firearm,
  • a firearm (not being a pistol), fitted with a stock that’s specially designed to be readily detachable, or to operate on a swivel, folding or telescopic basis,
  • a firearm made up in the form of a stylographic or propelling pen or pencil, capable of being used for the discharge of gas, bullets, shot, dye or pyrotechnic flares,
  • a firearm capable of discharging by any means any irritant matter in liquid, powder, gas or chemical form, or by pyrotechnic flare or dye,
  • a firearm that substantially duplicates in appearance some other article such as a walking stick, walking cane or key ring and disguises or concealed the fact that it is a firearm,
  • a cannon or other weapon by whatever name known of a type which will expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has a barrel with a bore in excess of 10 gauge (not being a firearm of the Very or rocket type designed and intended for use for life saving or distress signalling purposes, an antique muzzle loading firearm, or a rifle or shotgun manufactured before 1920),
  • any device known as a “powerhead” that can be attached to the end of a spear gun and is designed to propel a projectile by means of an explosive,
  • any firearm which (or part of which) has less dimension than the minimum dimension prescribed for firearm (or part) by the Firearms Regulation (the Regulations currently does not specify this other than clause 152 for purposes of section 62(2) Firearms Act.

Penalty Notice Firearm Offences

The following firearm offences attract a penalty notice fine only which means that you’re not required to attend court and face a conviction if the fine is paid putting an end to the matter entirely:

Section 39(1): $550: fail to take reasonable precautions to ensure the firearms safe keeping; that it’s not stolen or lost, and that it doesn’t come into possession of an unauthorised person

Section 40(1): $220: fail to comply with the following Category A and B licence requirements:

  • fail to store firearm in a locked receptacle of an approved type constructed of hard wood or steel that cannot be easily penetrated when not in use or not carried
  • fail to fix receptacle to prevent easy removal of it weighs less than 150kg when empty
  • fail to use an approved type of solid metal receptacle locks
  • fail to store the ammunition in an approved locked container or fail to keep it separate from the receptacle containing the firearm
  • fail to comply with security or safe storage requirements by the Firearms Regulation including clauses 28B Firearms Regulation.

Section 41(1): $550: fail to comply with the following Category C, D and H licence requirements:

  • fail to store firearm in an approved locked steel safe that cannot be easily penetrated when firearm not being carried or used.
  • fail to bolt safe to structure of premises where firearm is authorised to be kept.
  • fail to store ammunition in an approved locked container or fail to keep it separate from safe containing firearm
  • fail to comply with security and safe storage requirements Firearms Regulation, including clauses 28B Firearms Regulation.

Section 45: $220: fail to record firearms transactions by licensed firearms dealer.

Section 45A: $220: fail to record ammunition transactions by licensed firearms dealer.

Section 46(1): $550: failure by licensed firearms dealer to provide quarterly returns to Commissioner of Police.

Section 47(1)-(6): $550: failure to comply with the additional requirements for firearm dealers.

Section 48: $550: failure of licensed firearms dealer who displays firearms on premises to secure those firearms in manner that would reasonably prevent its removal otherwise than by dealer or dealer’s employee; or failure by dealer to ensure that any such displayed firearms is under immediate supervision and control and not displayed to public unless reasonable precautions taken to prevent it from being stolen.

Section 59: $220: fail to produce firearm (and licence or permit) to police officer for inspection on after demand of a police officer at any time if you’re carrying or in possession of firearm within immediate vicinity of you

Section 68: $550: fail to produce your licence or permit on demand made by police officer for inspection at least as soon as practicable (but no more than 6 hours); or fail to state your full name and usual place of residence to police if requested by police.

Section 69: $550: fail to update the Commissioner of Police as to any change of residence within 7 days after the change

Clause 13: $220: fail to notify Commissioner of Police within 14 days that your licence or permit’s been lost, stolen, destroyed, defaced or mutilated.

Clause 15: $550: fail to notify Commissioner of Police within 14 days if reason for possessing firearm ceases.

Clause 16: $220: fail to notify Commissioner of Police within 14 days of any change of particulars other than address (i.e. name).

Clause 17: $550: fail to notify Commissioner of Police within 14 days of address where firearms are kept from date of acquiring firearm or any change of address.

Clause 28B: $550: fail to comply with safety and storage requirements under this clause.

Clause 30(4): $220: fail to produce evidence of permission to shoot on rural land when requested by police if not member of approved hunting club, and you have a licence for recreational hunting or vermin control.

Clause 32(2) or (3): $220: fail to produce evidence of permission to shoot on rural land when requested by police if member of approved hunting club with licence for recreational hunting or vermin control.

Clause 103: $220: fail to notify secretary or other relevant office holder of club within 14 days of any change of personal details (i.e. name or address).

Clause 120: $220: fail to notify Commissioner of Police when moving interstate.

If you wish to dispute the fine, you may court elect the penalty notice without paying the fine. You will then receive notification of your court date where you must then either plead guilty or not guilty. This option can result in either a “not guilty” verdict if you defend it, or a non-conviction penalty on sentence if you plead guilty, or it may result in more serious penalties including imprisonment, conviction and heavier fines if guilty in court.

This is why it may be a better option to simply pay the fine.

Click here for your options after receiving a penalty notice fine.

Shortened Firearms

The maximum penalty of 14-years imprisonment applies to anyone who, without a permit, shortens a firearm (other than pistol), or possess a shortened firearm, or supplies or gives possession of a shortened firearm (prescribed by section 62 Firearms Act).

Clause 152 Firearms Regulation outlines what kinds of firearms are considered to have been shortened.

For smooth bore shotguns or a combination smooth bore shotgun and rifle- it will be considered shortened if:

  • the length of the barrel is less than 45cm, or
  • the length of the stock is less than 30cm or it has no stock.

For rifles (not being a combination smooth bore shotgun and rifle or air gun)- it will be considered shortened if:

  • the length of the barrel is less than 40cm, or
  • the length of the stock is less than 30cm or it has no stock, or
  • the overall length is less than 80cm

For air guns- it will be considered shortened if:

  • the length of the barrel is less than 30cm, or
  • the length of the stock is less than 30cm or it has no stock, or
  • the overall length is less than 70cm.

Here is an example of a shortened firearms case.

Baxter v R [2018] NSWCCA 281 is a case where the accused pleaded guilty to supply/possession of shortened single barrel 12 Gauge shotgun.

However, the evidence was incapable of establishing that the firearm was a “prohibited firearm”. There was no definition of a prohibited firearm which could sustain the conviction for this case.

Section 4 Firearms Act defines “prohibited firearms” by referring to schedule 1 of the Act. Sched 1 contains a list of firearms that are prohibited firearms.

Clause 16 of schedule 1 Firearms Act states that a “prohibited firearm” includes “any firearm which, … has dimensions less than the minimum dimension prescribed for the firearm or part by the regulations”.

Clause 152 Firearms Regulation 2017 (NSW) refers to minimum dimensions of firearms. Specifically states that its purpose is to prescribe the characteristics of shortened firearms “for purposes of section 62(2) of the Act”. Section 62(2) provides for the making of regulations as to the kinds of firearms that are to be considered as having been “shortened” for the purposes of this section.

Firearms Prohibition Orders NSW

What is a firearms prohibition order?

A firearms prohibition order is an order prohibiting you from bearing a firearm or firearm ammunition or firearm part in NSW.

It can be issued by the Commissioner of Police under Part 7 Firearms Act.

When does a firearms prohibition order take effect?

It takes effect or commences when a police officer serves a copy of the order to you personally.

Can a firearms prohibition order be revoked?

A firearms prohibition order can be revoked any time for any or no reason by the Commissioner of Police.

What causes a firearms prohibition order to be made? 

If the Commissioner of Police considers you to be a person not fit in the public interest to have a firearm, the Commissioner can issue you with a firearm prohibition order, under section 73(1) Firearm Act. There are no other criteria for what allows a police officer to make a firearms prohibition order against someone. This allows for any ranked police officer to issue nominate a person to be subject to this order.

Consequences of a Firearms Prohibition Order

What happens after a firearms prohibition order is made?

If you are subject to a firearms prohibition order, you will be prohibited from acquiring, possessing or using a firearm.

What are the penalties for breaching a firearm prohibition order in NSW?

This attracts a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment for any firearm (not a pistol or prohibited firearm). If it’s a pistol or prohibited firearm, the maximum penalty is 14 years jail, prescribed by section 74(1) Firearms Act.

The same maximum penalties apply if you are subject to a firearms prohibition order and you possess or acquire a firearm part.

If you acquire or possess ammunition for any firearm, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.

If you supply or give possession of a firearm or firearm part to someone you know is subject to a firearms prohibition order, the maximum penalties are:

  • 5 years imprisonment for firearms that are not a pistol or prohibited firearm.
  • 14 years imprisonment if the firearm or firearm part relates to a pistol or prohibited firearm.

If you supply or give possession of ammunition for a firearm to anyone you know is subject to an firearms prohibition order, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.

If you have a firearm, firearm part of ammunition for a firearm at a place you reside while subject to a firearms prohibition order, you will face a maximum penalty of 12-months imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine, unless you didn’t know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that it was there or took reasonable steps to prevent it from being there.

If you are subject to a firearms prohibition order, you will face a maximum penalty of 12-months imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine if you attend the following premises (unless you have a reasonable excuse):

  • firearms dealer premises
  • shooting range
  • firearms club premises
  • arms fair premises.

Can Police Search You, Your Car, or Your Home if You’re Subject to a Firearms Prohibition Order?

If you’re subject to a firearms prohibition order, a police officer can search you, your vehicle or your home to determine whether you’ve acquired, possessed or used a firearm, firearm part or ammunition, under section 74A Firearms Act.

In order to do this, the police can:

  • detain and search you, or
  • enter the premises that you occupy or premises you’re under the control or management of and search those premises, or
  • stop and detain your vehicle, vessel or aircraft that you occupy or you’re under the control or management of and search it.

Police can do this for purposes of searching for any firearms, parts of firearms or ammunition.

This can only be done by police if the officer considers it is “reasonably required” to check whether you have breached the firearm prohibition orders of acquiring, possessing or using a firearm.

There’s no definition of what “reasonably required” means. There is therefore no need for a search warrant or a reasonable suspicion test to exercise search and detain powers.

Abuse of Police Search Powers Against People Subject to Firearms Prohibition Orders

The search and detain powers given to police against people subject to a firearms prohibition orders have been labelled as “extraordinary”.

The Ombudsman keeps a close eye on police who exercise their search powers against those subject to firearms prohibition orders. This means that the Ombudsman has power to require the Commissioner of Police to provide information about their use of these search powers. This is required to take place for two years from the commencement of these powers before a report will be produced by the Ombudsman.

The report may result in changes to the police powers by imposing more restrictions on the police in using these powers.

Illegal Possession of Firearms

How serious is the unauthorised possession or use of a firearm?

Having or using a firearm without a licence or permit is a very serious criminal offence in NSW reflected not only in the maximum penalties applicable, but also reflected in the standard non-parole periods they apply ranging from 4-10 years standard non-parole period. Courts therefore take these firearm offences very seriously which is usually reflected in the sentences that ordinarily get imposed for firearm offences.

The standard non-parole period represents a guide to the sentencing Judge as to the minimum period of in-jail time that applies before being eligible for release on parole if the firearm offence determined by the Judge to fall in the middle of the range of objective seriousness for like offences.

A 4 year non-parole period applies to the unauthorised use or possession of a firearm.

A 10 year standard non-parole period applies to the unauthorised sale of a prohibited firearm or pistol. The same standard non-parole period applies for the unauthorised sale of firearms on an ongoing basis, or for the unauthorised possession of more than three firearms any one of which is a prohibited firearm or pistol.

NSW Firearms Amnesty

Any person who illegally possesses a firearm in NSW will be exempt from the firearms restrictions and penalties if that person attends a police station or participating firearms dealer to surrender the firearm in, according to clause 138 Firearms Regulations 2017 (NSW). This does not apply to you if you are subject to a firearms or weapons prohibition order, an AVO or interim AVO.

The same amnesty exemption applies to participating dealers supplying or registering the surrendered firearm.

Is it Illegal to have a Spear Gun in NSW?

It is illegal to acquire, supply, use or have a spear gun in your possession if you are under the age of 14-years-old. Penalties of up to $1,100 fines apply prescribed, according to clause 153 Firearms Regulation. This does not apply if you have a spear gun in your possession or use a spear gun if you’re aged 12 or more but less than 14-years of age, provided you are doing this while under direct supervision of someone over the age of 18-years of age.

It is also illegal attracting a maximum penalty of $2,200 fine if you supply a spear gun to a person under the age of 14-years.

What is a “spear gun”?

Spear gun means a spear gun having an overall length of at least 45cm (being the length of the spear gun when it’s not loaded with a spear) according to the Firearms Regulation.

A spear gun is a prohibited weapon just like OC sprays, pepper sprays, and laser pointers according to schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 (NSW). Accordingly it is illegal to have or use a spear gun in NSW unless you hold an authorised permit. Having or using a spear gun without a permit attracts up to 14-years imprisonment in NSW.

Click here for more on Prohibited Weapons laws in NSW.

Click here for firearms and weapons laws in other States and Territories of Australia

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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