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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Firearms Offences Firearms Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

Firearms Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

The Firearms Act 1997 (NT) governs firearms offences in the Northern Territory. This Act is intended to regulate, control, and guide weapons registration and other connected matters.

If an individual is convicted in an NT court for a firearms offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on an NT Criminal History Check result.

Offences involving firearms in the Northern Territory (NT)

In the NT, firearms offences are punished quite harshly. If you wish to have a firearms license, you must have a valid reason and, in certain situations, a justifiable need, according to the Firearms Act. Even if you are a registered gun owner, the Commissioner of Police may revoke your license or certificate of registration for up to 4 weeks if they suspect you are unfit to retain a permit. However, they will give you the chance to explain why the police should not cancel it.

You are prohibited from possessing any firearms covered by the license, permit, or certification during the suspension time.

If a temporary domestic violence order is issued against you, your license, permit, or registration certificate is immediately suspended. The suspension stays in effect until the confirmation of the order or its withdrawal. Under such circumstances, any firearm, as well as any license, permission, or firearms registration certificates you may have, must be given to the police. If one fails to do so, it might result in a fine of $7,650 or a sentence of one year in jail.

Eligibility for applying for a license

If you are an ordinary person (a human being, not a company or business), you:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must provide documentation proving that you are an NT resident.
  • You must identify yourself adequately.
  • In the previous five years, you mustn't have been the subject of any DVOs (Domestic Violence Orders).
  • You must have completed a firearms safety course that has been certified by the government.
  • You must fulfil the standards for safe storage.
  • You must have a valid purpose for possessing a license.

The directors of a corporation or firm must:

  • Substantiate that it is an NT-registered company or (an Australian-registered corporation)
  • Supply more information on the nominee, owner, or director in charge of the firearms.

Natural persons, as well as corporations (businesses), must:

  • Be fully compliant with the Firearms Act (and Firearms Regulations) safe storage requirements.
  • Have a legitimate justification or need for a license.

Genuine grounds for obtaining a Firearms permit

The following are legitimate reasons for possessing a weapons license:

  • You are an active paying member of an authorized firearms club (and have completed the requisite number of "shoots" in the previous year).
  • You own or occupy a significant portion of rural property, or you have the authorization to shoot on different specified areas for leisure shooting (or hunting).
  • Primary producers - You're a primary producer who only employs weapons for agricultural purposes.
  • Agriculture-related reasons- You're a professional contract gunman for particular pests and a vertebrate pest animal management.
  • Business or job - Having or using weapons for your company, including legally selling firearms.
  • Occupational considerations - Your job necessitates the ownership or use of guns. For instance, if you're a veterinarian, you could be interested in firearms for animal welfare reasons.
  • Weapons collection - You are a member of a firearms collecting group or club.
  • Lawful exhibitions: You acquire weapons for museum exhibitions because of their historical or aesthetic significance or technical peculiarity.
  • Inheritance-You inherited the weapon and are not eligible for any other license.

Categories of firearms

There are many different types of firearms defined under the Firearms Act for the specific purpose of firearms crimes in the Northern Territory.

Category A

It includes:

  • Shotguns that aren't self-loading or pump action
  • Rimfire rifles that do not have a self-loading magazine
  • Combinations of shotguns and rimfire rifles
  • Air rifles (a kind of rifle that uses compressed air to fire)

Category B

It includes:

  • Rifles with a centre-fire chamber that aren't self-loading
  • Weapons with a muzzleloader
  • Combinations of shotguns and centre-fire rifles

Category C

It includes:

  • Pump-action shotguns with a potential magazine capacity of no more than five rounds
  • Self-loading shotguns with a fixed magazine capacity of no more than five rounds
  • Self-loading rimfire rifles with a potential magazine capacity of no more than ten rounds
  • Weapons with tranquilisers
  • Firearms for paintballs

Category D

It includes:

  • Shotguns with a magazine capacity of at least five rounds
  • Self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capacity of more than ten rounds
  • A rifle with a self-loading centre-fire magazine
  • Shotguns with magazines capacity of more than five rounds
  • A firearm (other than a pistol) that is less than 70 cm long and concealable on the person
  • An inoperable machine gun

Category H

It includes:

  • Air pistols and pistols

Firearms Offences

There are a wide variety of firearms-related offences under the NT's Firearms Act. The Act governs the following issues:

Licensing and permissions, and the usage of guns

To legally own or use a controlled weapon NT, one must obtain a license or permission. Anyone with a conviction record of certain major offences, such as illegal drugs trade and domestic violence, is subject to certain restrictions on issuing licenses and permits.

If you are found with a firearm without the proper license or approval, you might face serious consequences. You risk a $30,600 fine and a year in prison, or two years of imprisonment if the firearm is put under the category A or B weapon, or $61,200 or more.

The punishment for trafficking in illegal guns escalates to 20 years in jail and $765,000 for corporations if more than one of the firearms is a restricted firearm.

Registration of firearms

You can't sell or purchase guns that haven't been registered unless you have a weapons dealer license. Additionally, it is against the law to change its license. A fine of $3,060 or six months in jail may be imposed for tampering with weapons certificates.

Storage and safekeeping of firearms

Safe storage conditions must be met to be granted a valid license. The NT police have certified many commercial firearms cabinets and safes that you may purchase from most gun stores or locksmiths. The police sometimes approve custom-built safes if your containers fulfil the safe storage standards.

The Northern Territory Police Department has a page dedicated to weapons storage rules. If you don't want to end yourself on the wrong side of the law, familiarISe yourself with the Weapons Control Act 2001 (NT).

Sale or purchase of guns

For both the buyer and seller to comply, they must be issued with the proper permission or license. As a result, unless you're dealing with a person who already has a permit or dealer license, or the police, you can't purchase or sell a handgun without one. Penalties vary from $30,600 or one year in jail to $61,200 or two years in prison, with company penalties ranging from $153,000-$306,000.

Dealing in unregistered categories A and B, firearms are punishable by a fine of $1,530 or three months in jail. Otherwise, the penalty is $7,650 or a year in jail.


Unauthorised gun owners are required by law to surrender their weapons to the authorities immediately (s67). There are no penalties for returning a gun in compliance with section 67 of the Firearms Act 1997 (NT).

Modifying the firearms

If you change a weapon in a way that would compromise its safety or make it into a different kind of firearm, you're breaking the law. As a result, it is illegal to manufacture, repair, or alter a weapon without a license.

There is a $306,000 fine or ten months in jail for every other firearms category. The court may impose a penalty of $459,000 or 15 years in prison for making, altering, or repairing a restricted weapon or handgun.


The purchase or possession of ammunition for a weapon without a valid license or authorization is illegal under section 69 of the Act. A fine of $1,530 or three months in jail for a person and $7,650 for a company may be imposed for illegally selling ammunition.

If ammunition is misplaced (or stolen), you must notify the Commissioner of Police immediately. Failure to comply may result in a $1,530 fine or three months in prison if the offender is an individual or in penalties of $7,650 for a business.

Unsafe firearms

It is illegal to use or possess an unsafe firearm. However, if a person can argue that they actually didn't know and couldn't logically have known about the firearm's hazardous condition, they may be able to avoid prosecution [s76 of the Firearms Act 1997 (NT)]. The maximum penalty for this offence is 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months.

Machine guns and silencers

Unless the owner possesses a gun or museum collector's license, it is illegal to own or operate silencers or machine guns [s77 of the Firearms Act 1997 (NT)]. The maximum penalty for possessing a machine gun is 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months.

Firearms in public

Carrying a firearm openly in a city, town or in another local government jurisdiction is against the law. There are some exceptions under s78 of the Act (for lawful purposes). The maximum penalty for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place is 400 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months.

Firearms on a specific piece of land

Unless they own, possess, or use the land privately, or the occupier has given approval, or another legislation authorizes them, it is illegal for anybody to discharge a weapon on private property [s79]. Possession of guns on the property with clearly designated borders or fences [s80] or specified Crown land [s81] is also subject to a similar prohibition. Section 82 of the Act prohibits the intentional discharge of a weapon into or over a public highway or street. The maximum penalty for this offence is 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months.

Inappropriate use of guns

To aim or discharge a firearm at (or in someone else's position ) is against the law, regardless of whether it is done as part of a game or contest. Ss. 83 and 84 of the Act define it as an offence to discharge a weapon to harm, irritate, or terrify public members or an individual. The maximum penalty for this offence (discharging of a firearm and causing danger) is 200 penalty units or imprisonment for 4 years.

Alcohol and weapons

When intoxicated with drugs or alcohol, it is illegal to possess a weapon [s86 of the Firearms Act 1997 (NT)]. The maximum penalty for this offence is 50 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment.

The bottom-line

According to several restrictions controlling their ownership and transit, guns and other weapons are forbidden from being held or carried in public spaces in the Northern Territory (NT). The bulk of the firearms crimes are now included in the weapons control act and the gun legislation.

However, it's essential to realise that these crimes aren't limited to the use of firearms. In specific contexts, it may be illegal to carry or brandish anything that may be mistaken for a weapon, such as sticks, rocks, spears, woomeras, and knives, because they could be mistaken for weapons.

Will a Firearms Offence show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

If an individual is found guilty of a firearms offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Individuals can obtain a police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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