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There are many laws and discussions about firearms, their use and regulations in Australia, including in the ACT. People are no longer worried about the civil rights that make others own a gun or other weapon, but to what degree the possession affects other people.
Australian laws prioritise life, property, and the State/Territory, so the offences connected to the use of a firearm may affect licensed and non-licensed holders of the firearm.
The scope of firearm offences in the ACT is extensive regardless of how you consider it.
If an individual is convicted in an ACT court for a firearms offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on an ACT Criminal History Check result.
The Firearms Act 1996 (ACT) guides the description of all weapons, objects, and instruments classified as firearms in the Australian Capital Territory. The Act also regulates the privileges through safe use laws and storage and expands on all other issues regarding firearms possession.
The Act defines a firearm as;
A gun, weapon or other instruments can project material or object with explosive and destructive consequences. Projectiles usually require a small effort through an instrument/equipment to produce a larger than "exponential force", causing damage or injury to a person or thing.
Some examples of firearms include;
A prohibited firearm means any of the materials used as a firearm that is described under
There are many laws on firearms use, regulations, storage, and licensing; breaching any of these rules is usually an indictable offence in the ACT handled by a higher court. The punishments and penalties for contravening/disobeying Firearms matters/laws depend on the severity of the crime and offence.
It is an offence to disregard any of the Firearms possession laws; a person who illegally holds or keeps a firearm is guilty of offences under Division 7.1 and section 42 of the Act. It describes cases where the offences were with;
Ten or more prohibited firearms; the Act prescribes punishments of imprisonment for 20 years,
The various actions that constitute these illegal behaviours include;
Where the offender possesses ten or more firearms; the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment
Where the offender possesses three or more firearms but less than ten firearms; the Act defines penalties of up to 7 years imprisonment
Where the offender possesses 1 or 2 firearms; the Act prescribes a prison sentence up to 5 years term
Section 45 of the Act considers a person who has a license or permit to use or possess a prohibited firearm guilty if they contravene any of the conditions for the licenses.
If the person has a permit for firearms not prohibited, the court can impose penalties up to;
However, the offence does not cover a case where the condition includes that the licensee or permit holder must allow the Police officer to inspect a facility. And where the refusal was reasonable in all circumstances.
There are various definitions for offences under the Licensing section of Division 7.2 of the Firearms Act 1966. Under the Act, various Firearm licenses can be issued to individuals, groups, entities and agencies. It includes;
There are various ways a person can disregard any of these offences against firearms licensing, including;
Offences of lost, stolen or destroyed licenses
It is an offence for a licensee to have their licenses lost, stolen or destroyed, and while knowing about the incident, does not report it. If the license fails to report to the registrar or any official body about such loss within seven days they become aware of the loss, they are liable to punishments up to:
A person commits an offence if they disagree to surrender their firearm/weapon when their licenses are revoked or suspended. It does not matter that the actions were;
For all intentional or negligent withholding of firearms when the license is suspended, the court imposes 50 penalty units or a six months imprisonment.
The offender also attracts equal punishments or penalties from the court if they fail to surrender the suspended or cancelled license once it expires or within the stated periods.
It is an offence under section 176 by an entity or an organisation not to report that their license is cancelled. The person or organisation must, within seven days of the registration cancellation, inform the registrar.
It also includes where the composite entity does not update the registrar or official about their employees who use/possess a firearm registered under them. It includes cases where the employee stops being employed by the registered owner.
The maximum penalty for such an offence is ten penalty units.
Section 177 of the Act describes all actions and punishments concerning the use, disposal or acquisition of unregistered firearms.
It is an offence to use, dispose or handle firearms without registering them whether they are prohibited or not. Under the Firearm Act, the court can impose penalties of;
For the use, disposal, handling or acquiring a Prohibited firearm
For the use, disposal, handling or acquiring other firearms not prohibited
The registered firearm owner must provide and produce the firearm within the reasonable period, and time the officer requires it. For such offences, the court can impose penalties up to 50 penalty units to the offender.
It is also an offence for a registered holder of a firearm to;
It is an offence for a person to possess a firearm under another permit or where the person is not the principal owner of the license.
It is an offence under the Act for a person who possesses either a prohibited or non prohibited firearm to be intentional or negligent disregard the storage options and requirements.
It includes all cases where the person does not take enough steps to ensure that the firearm is
For such offences, the person will be liable to punishments of:
Under Section 185 of the Act, it is an offence for a person to dispose of, use, handle, manufacture, or supply a firearm if a firearms dealer license does not authorise them.
It is a severe offence for licensed dealers to employ a prohibited person in operation or allow such person to be involved in the process and the industry.
The court can impose punishments up to 10 years imprisonment term for such offences.
It is also a severe offence to a prohibited person to take part or include themselves legally or not in a firearm transfer or deal.
It is a severe offence for a firearms dealer to intentionally or negligently fail to record or inspect any firearm deal to procure or manage. It also includes all failure to engage in records prescribed by the registrar for the regulation.
The court can impose penalties up to 50 penalty units for such offences.
Firearm Offences can be very severe considering the severity of the offence or the section of the Act that the offender breaches.
It may be a defence if the legal counsel of the defendant can prove that their client is authorised to possess or use a prohibited firearm under any of the following sections;
If an individual is found guilty of a firearms offence in the ACT, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check.
Individuals can obtain a criminal history check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
Firearms Act 1996 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1996-74/
Australian Institute of Criminology (Court Outcomes for Firearms Offences in Australia) - https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/tbp031.pdf
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