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  • Firearms Offences and Penalties in Tasmania

    In Tasmania, firearms offences are handled under the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas). This Act provides the legal framework to enforce the NFA (National Firearms Agreement). The NFA is predicated on the notion that weapon ownership and usage are a privilege. Each Tasmanian who owns or possesses a firearm needs to acquire a license and register each firearm in their possession. Additionally, the types of firearms that a person may legitimately use, hold or collect are limited.

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

    Background to the Firearms Act in Tasmania

    The 1996 Port Arthur massacre took the lives of 35 people, 23 others sustained serious injuries, and it devastated the town and the entire island. The ramifications were severe, and the pain continues to this day for many. This incident gave birth to the NFA.

    The National Firearms Agreement and subsequent state legislation have been a success in public health and safety matters. Since 1996, Australia has not seen a second mass shooting. The probability of this reoccurring is significantly lower.

    National and state gun laws are worldwide recognised for their effectiveness in promoting public safety - in striking contrast to jurisdictions with permissive gun controls.

    Offences involving Firearms in Tasmania

    It is a criminal offence, as outlined under Section 114 of the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas), for one to carry a gun with the purpose to prevent law enforcement officers from carrying out their official lawful duties or committing a crime. Additionally, it is an offence (of aggravated assault) according to section 115 of the Act if one uses a firearm, threatens to use it, or carries it during an attack.

    There is a sizable number of additional offences meant to protect the licensing and registration systems' integrity. These include:

    • Possessing firearms without a license
    • Prohibited magazines
    • A sawn-off shotgun (offences of shortening firearms)
    • Falsifying identification marks and records

    Public Order Offences

    The Firearms Act covers a range of public order offences. These include the following:

    • Impeding law enforcement (section 128 of the Act);
    • Being in a public area with a loaded weapon (Section 111 of the Act);
    • Weapon discharge in a public area (section 112 of the Act);
    • Careless discharge of a weapon (Section 113 of the Act);

    Additionally, there are some restrictions on the usage, sale, and ownership of ammunition and gun components.

    Use or possession of prohibited firearms in Tasmania

    Possessing or using a restricted weapon illegally is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) and Section 9 (1A) of the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas).

    The following artilleries are prohibited in Tasmania under Schedule 1 of the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas) -

    • Category A weapons, which include air rifles, rimfire rifles (other than self-loading), shotguns (other than pump-action or self-loading), and shotgun and rimfire combination weaponry
    • Category B weapons; which includes muzzleloading guns, centerfire rifles (other than self-loading), and shotgun and centerfire rifle combinations
    • Category C weapons; which include self-loading rimfire rifles (magazine capacity no more than ten rounds), self-loading shotguns (magazine capacity no greater than five rounds), or pump-action shotguns (with a magazine capacity of no more than five rounds)
    • Category D weapons; which includes Self-loading centrefire rifles, self-loading shotguns (with a capacity of more than five rounds), pump-action shotguns (with a capacity of more than five rounds), and self-loading rimfire rifles (with a magazine capacity of more than ten rounds)
    • Category H weapons; which includes handguns, including pistols and air pistols

    If a person possesses a category H firearms licence for sport or target shooting, they may need to apply for permission to obtain a banned handgun to participate in a specified event.

    Permit for the Purchase of a Firearm in Tasmania

    According to the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas), an eligible person may apply to the Commissioner of Police for a permit to purchase a firearm of the type their license pertains to (Section 58).

    A permit cannot be issued unless the Commissioner is satisfied that the applicant is the bearer of a valid license authorizing them to carry or use that weapon (Section 60(4)(a) of the Act). The Commissioner of Police's delegates are responsible for receiving, analysing, and processing applications for gun acquisition licenses.

    While you must have a valid weapons license to register, acquire, or possess a firearm or ammunition, you may also sell a firearm via a registered guns dealer.

    Without the required license, you are not permitted to carry or use a handgun. The maximum punishment is $15,400 or two years in jail, or both, for violating this provision.

    A person aged 12 to 18 years old may apply for a minor's permit with their parent or guardian's written consent. A youngster who illegally possesses a weapon faces a maximum penalty of $770.

    Time required for approval

    A permit will be granted 28 days after your application is submitted. After 14 days, The Commissioner of Police may give more permissions. These cooling-off intervals are a bare minimum and will vary according to job demands.

    Duration

    Permits are valid for 90 days from the day they are issued or until the firearm is bought.

    Registration

    A firearm cannot be sold, acquired, possessed, exhibited, or used unless registered and the owner has the needed license—the maximum penalty: $7,700 in amends or two years in jail or both.

    Within seven days you must inform the authority (the Commissioner of Police) about the loss or theft of a registered firearm or its registration certificate. The maximum fine for not doing so is $7,700.

    Police powers in the implementation of the Firearms Act in Tasmania

    The police are granted vast powers in respect to the implementation of legislative requirements. These include the police's authority to:

    • Stop and search anybody suspected of possessing a weapon (s134);
    • Justified entry and search of premises (s135);
    • Enter any property when the officer considers a hazardous situation has developed (s137);
    • Compel an individual to surrender any weapon for inspection (s134).

    Tasmanian firearms offences involving the use

    In general, the most severe weapons offences in Tasmania include the use of a firearm. Among these offences are the following:

    • Carrying a loaded firearm to a public place is a crime. The maximum penalty is $15,400 in fines or three years in jail, or both.
    • Bringing a weapon into a public location and firing it. The maximum penalty is $7,700 in fines or two years in jail, or both
    • recklessly discharging a firearm within 250 meters of a residential home, except on an authorised range or with the agreement of the inhabited house's occupant. The maximum penalty is $7,700 or two years in jail or both.

    Guidelines for Firearm Storage in Tasmania

    For guns licensees, excluding dealers, who are subject to the provisions of section 87 of the Firearms Act 1996 (Tas), these general rules apply:

    When a firearm or firearm component is not in use, maintenance, or transportation, you must keep it in a lockable container. Containers must be impenetrable, and they must be:

    1. made of metal that is at least 2 millimeters thick for guns or firearms components classified as Category A or B;
    2. made of metal that is at least 3millimeters thick for weapons or firearms components classified as Category C, D, or H; or
    3. made of concrete;

    Storage containers weighing less than 150 kilos-when empty-must be secured using masonry fixing bolts (or coach screws)-where applicable:

    1. a minimum of twice to a wall and a minimum of twice to the floor; or
    2. a minimum of four times either to the floor or to a wall; in a way that makes removal difficult;

    The locking mechanism on the receptacle must be internal. The container must include the following:

    1. A hinged internal structure; or
    2. A device that prevents the shutter from being unlocked if the hinges are removed while the receptacle is locked.

    Ammunition

    When ammunition is not in use or transport, one must keep it in a lockable container that is:

    1. Distinct from, or a chamber separate from, any container in which a firearm is kept; and
    2. Keyed differently than any other gun storage; or in a way that the Commissioner approves.

    Where Category H weapons or ten or more firearms of any category are housed on-premises, you must fit the premises or storage receptacle with a piece of electronic security equipment that meets the following requirements:

    1. Aimed at preventing, detecting, or discouraging illegal access;
    2. Capable of detecting uninvited entrance; and
    3. Kept clean and in good operating condition.

    The electronic security equipment may be an alarm or a visual recording device, and it must have the following:

    1. If an alarm is required, it must be heard or monitored; or
    2. If the device is a visual recording device, you must keep a record of any activities near the receptacle on a storage device;
    3. You must not place the storage equipment close to the receptacle; and
    4. The visual records must be of sufficient quality to enable the identification of individuals in the proximity of the receptacle.

    As is presently the case, the Commissioner may also allow alternate weapons storage arrangements if they determine that they offer a higher level of security than the standards set out above.

    Offences involving weapons storage in Tasmania

    If you own a firearm (including a replica firearm), you must take reasonable care to ensure they’re adequately maintained. You must ensure that it is not lost or stolen and does not fall into the hands of an unauthorized person. The maximum punishment for failing to store your weapon securely is as follows:

    • $7,700 or two years in jail for possessing a restricted weapon, or both.
    • $3,080 or 12 months in jail for any other firearm or both.

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

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

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