LiveChat Loading...

Australian National Character Check livechat loading
Australian National Character Check livechat loading
|
  • Resources & Technical Articles
  • Pre-Employment Screening Topics
  • Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z)
  • Locations
  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Firearms Offences Firearms Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    Firearms Offences and Penalties in South Australia (SA)

    In South Australia (SA), there are several laws to ensure strict gun control in the state. Consequently, these laws are put in place for the safety of the public. As such, breaking any of the regulations in the Firearms Act 2015 (SA) regarding the possession or use of firearms is a criminal offence that can attract severe penalties.

    In this article, we will be discussing the various firearms offences and their penalties. However, before going into these areas, we will need to look at what firearms mean and the different categories of firearms.

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

    Firearms and their Different Classes

    According to Section 4 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA), firearms refers to a device built to fire bullets or any other projectile through the means of an explosive propellant, compressed air or gas.

    A firearm is also any device that the law calls a firearm. These devices include any instrument which may either be temporarily or permanently unusable but, if fixed, could function as a firearm. However, this does not include an antique firearm or any equipment that the law does not consider a firearm.

    Also, there are several categories of firearms in South Australia. These are the categories:


    • Category A Firearms

    Category A firearms refer to weapons such as air guns, rimfire rifles which are not self-loading rifles, paintball firearms and the like.


    • Category B Firearms

    This category includes muzzle-loading weapons, rifles with revolving chambers, and non-self loading centre fire rifles. In addition, fire rifles with multiple barrels which cannot hold more rounds in a magazine, break-action shotguns, pump-action shotguns, e.t.c., also fall under this category.


    • Category C Firearms

    Category C involves weapons such as self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine with the capacity to hold ten rounds or less, shotguns that are self-loading with a magazine capacity for five rounds or less. Also, this includes pump-action shotguns with a magazine that is capable of holding five rounds or less.


    • Category D Firearms

    This category includes firearms such as self-loading rimfire rifles with a magazine capable of holding over ten rounds, self-loading centre fire rifles and self-loading shotguns with a magazine that can hold more than five rounds. Also, this category involves pump-action shotguns that have a magazine capacity of more than five rounds.


    • Category H Firearms

    Under this category are handguns that do not fall under the class of prescribed firearms.


    • Prescribed Firearms

    Prescribed firearms are weapons such as mortars, bazookas, grenades, automatic firearms e.t.c.

    Unauthorised Possession and Supply of Firearms in SA

    Under Section 31 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA), it is a crime to possess firearms without authorisation. This legislation states that individuals are guilty of an offence if they possess or supply a firearm of a particular category without the appropriate license.

    However, this is not a license to collect and display firearms. Furthermore, a person may not be guilty of committing an offence if they have acquired a license that allows them to possess a prescribed firearm.

    Nevertheless, their use of the prescribed firearm must not contradict what is contained in their license. Furthermore, it is vital to note that a person below 18 is not allowed to purchase or own ammunition.

    Any person that has or supplies a firearm without authorisation must prove to the Court that during the time the event took place, they had the license, allowing them to possess or provide a particular firearm. This is because, in these cases, the burden of proof typically rests on the defendant instead of the prosecution.

    If the defendant cannot convince the Court that they had the authorization to possess or supply firearms, they might be found guilty of the crime. Consequently, the crime of possessing or providing firearms attracts a maximum of $10,000 fine or two years imprisonment.

    Transfer of Possession of Firearms in SA

    Section 25 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA) clearly states only a licensed individual can transfer possession of a particular firearm to another person under specific circumstances. An instance would be a licensed individual transferring their firearm to a licensed dealer to repair or modify it.

    Also, it is legally allowed for a licensed person to transfer their firearm to a licensed dealer if they are not permitted to own a firearm for a particular period. However, upon receiving the firearm, it is against the law for the dealer to transfer the firearm to somebody else apart from the owner.

    In a situation where a person is being charged with breaking the law regarding the transfer of a firearm, they can raise the defence that their actions were legally justifiable as they had the authorisation to transfer their firearm.

    If, after their defence, the Court still finds them guilty of the offence, this can attract a $10,000 fine or two years imprisonment if the firearm belongs to category C, D or H. If the firearm is of lesser category, then the maximum penalty would be $5,000 or 1 year imprisonment.

    Alteration of Firearms

    According to Section 38 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA), altering firearms is an offence in South Australia. This legislation states that an individual must not modify a firearm from one category to another without a license or approval from the Registrar. Also, no person must alter a once unusable firearm to become usable without permission or license.

    Altering a weapon without approval carries a maximum penalty of $50,000 fine or ten years imprisonment if the firearm belongs to category C, D or H. For a prescribed firearm, this attracts a maximum penalty of $75,000 or 15 years imprisonment.

    If the firearm does not belong to any of the above categories, the maximum penalty would be a $35,000 fine or seven years imprisonment. Additionally, anyone who attempts to alter a weapon faces a maximum penalty of $15,000 fine or four years imprisonment.

    If charged with the crime of altering a firearm, the defendant can raise the defence that they had legal backing to engage in the act of altering a firearm.

    Manufacturing Firearms and Certain Firearms Parts Like Sound Moderators

    Section 37 of the Act asserts that nobody can manufacture a firearm, firearm parts or a sound moderator without a license or written approval from the Registrar. This legislation also states in clear terms that anyone who provides another person with any kind of assistance in building firearms, its parts or sound moderator is guilty of committing an offence.

    When charged with this offence, the defendant can claim that the part they are manufacturing is for their firearm, registered in their name.

    Also, a defendant can claim that they manufactured the firearm, its parts or a sound moderator in the process of carrying out their duties as an employee of a registered company.

    Using this defence could lead to their acquittal. However, if a defendant is guilty of manufacturing firearms, parts of a firearm or a sound moderator, they are likely to face some penalties.

    For the crime of manufacturing a prescribed firearm or prescribed firearm parts, the maximum penalty is $75,000 or imprisonment of 15 years. However, if the firearm or firearm parts belong to categories C, D, H, then the maximum penalty would be a fine of $50,000 or 10 years imprisonment.

    If the firearm or the parts belong to any other category, the maximum penalty would be a $35,000 fine or seven years imprisonment.

    It is worthy of note that a licensed dealer cannot be charged with manufacturing firearms or parts of a firearm if all they did was assemble prefabricated parts that were naturally designed to be assembled and disassembled. Consequently, this could be for transportation or storage.

    Possessing Sound Moderator and Certain Firearms Parts

    In SA, it is against the law to own a sound moderator or certain firearm parts. This rule is in Section 39 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA), which asserts that no individual must possess a sound moderator or any restricted firearm mechanism without obtaining approval from the Registrar.

    In most cases, the Registrar only approves when an individual has a genuine reason for needing a sound moderator or a particular restricted part of a firearm. However, upon getting approval, an individual will have to use the sound moderator or the restricted firearm part solely for the purpose to which the Registrar in writing agreed.

    Anyone who possesses a sound moderator or restricted firearm piece without approval faces a maximum penalty of 2 years incarceration or a fine of $10,000. For an aggravated offence of owning a sound moderator or restricted parts of a firearm without approval, the maximum penalty a person can face is a fine of $75,000 or 15 years imprisonment.

    The crime becomes aggravated if the offender fitted the sound moderator to a firearm or possessed a sound moderator or a restricted firearm that fits with the firearm they own.

    Also, a person faces a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment or a fine of $75,000 if their use of the sound moderator or the restricted firearm parts contradicts the conditions stated in the written approval they got from the Registrar.

    A person must also provide the sound moderator with an identifying mark to the police within 14 days of getting the approval. Failure to do this can attract a maximum penalty of $20,000 fine or imprisonment of 4 years.

    Furthermore, it is against the law for an individual to alter the sound moderator or its identifying mark without approval from the appropriate authorities. Modifying the sound moderator or its identifying mark without authorisation carries a maximum penalty of 7 years incarceration or a fine of $35,000.

    Assembling Ammunition

    Section 41 of the Act states that a person can be guilty of an offence if they assemble ammunition or provide anybody with any kind of assistance in assembling ammunition without authorisation. The word 'assemble' under this legislation refers to combining a cartridge and other components of ammo into a single piece of equipment suitable for a firearm.

    If charged with this offence, the accused can claim that they have the authorisation to assemble ammunition. However, if the defendant is found guilty of the crime, they face a maximum penalty of 4 years imprisonment or a fine of $20,000.

    Using Firearms When under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs in SA

    It is a crime for an individual to handle firearms while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance. The legislation for this crime is under Section 42 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA)

    This law asserts that a person who handles a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicating substance is incapable of having complete control of their actions and has committed a crime.

    Also, anyone who gives a firearm to someone that appears to be intoxicated, hence rendering them incapable of handling a firearm, is guilty of an offence. The penalty for both crimes is a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or a fine of $10,000.

    Dealing in Firearms Without License in SA

    Dealing with firearms without a license is a criminal offence under Section 22 the Act. This legislation asserts that both the buyer and the seller of a firearm are guilty of an offence if they do not have the authorisation to carry out the act. If a person is guilty of this offence, they can face a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment or a $75,000 fine if the weapon in question is a prescribed firearm.

    When the weapon falls within the C, D, H categories, the maximum penalty for the offence would be ten years imprisonment or a fine of $50,000. If the weapon does not fall in the categories mentioned above, the maximum penalty for the crime would be seven years imprisonment or a fine of $35,000.

    Unregistered Firearms in SA

    It is compulsory for everyone who possesses a firearm in South Australia to register their firearm. Failure to do this can attract severe penalties. According to Section 27 of the Firearms Act 2015 (SA), individuals can commit a crime if they possess an unregistered firearm.

    Also, the Court may find a person guilty if they possess a firearm that is not registered in their name. If a person is found guilty of a crime under this legislation, they are liable to 7 years imprisonment or a fine of $35,000 if the weapon is a prescribed firearm.

    If the weapon belongs to the category of C, D, and H, the maximum penalty an offender can face is four years imprisonment or a fine of $20,000. If the weapon belongs to any other category, the maximum penalty would be a fine of $10,000 or 2 years imprisonment.

    Bottom Line

    In South Australia, each firearm offence carries stiff penalties. As such, breaking any of these laws can place a person in a difficult situation.

    The reason is that a person convicted of a gun-related crime may end up in jail or have to pay a considerable fine. Therefore, an individual needs to familiarise themselves with the laws regarding the use of firearms in South Australia to ensure that they do not break the law.

    Will a Firearms Offence in South Australia (SA) show up on a national criminal history check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a firearms offence in SA, 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.

    Sources

    Firearms Act 2015 (SA) - https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/lz?path=%2FC%2FA%2FFirearms%20Act%202015

    Legal Services Commission of South Australia (Firearms) - https://lawhandbook.sa.gov.au/ch12s06s05s04.php

    South Australia Police (Firearms and Weapons) - https://www.police.sa.gov.au/services-and-events/firearms-and-weapons

    Copyright & Disclaimer

    The content on this website is communicated to you on behalf of Australian National Character Check™ (ANCC®) pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act).

    The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further reproduction of this material may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act.

    You may include a link on your website pointing to this content for commercial, educational, governmental or personal use.

    The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

    Top