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Firearms and Weapons Offences

There are strict restrictions and regulations regarding the possession and ownership of firearms throughout Australia.  In Queensland, all people in possession of firearms (and certain weapons) must hold an appropriate licence.  Owners are required to comply with stringent regulations relating to storage and registration of their weapons.

Weapons and firearms offences are serious.  The penalties range from fines to a mandatory period of imprisonment if you are convicted of certain offences.  There may also be an impact on your ability to retain your weapons licence if you are charged with a weapons or firearms offence.  In most circumstances, you will be at risk of losing your weapons licence, even if the offending was seemingly minor.

It is important you seek legal advice if you are charged with a weapons or firearms offence.  This will ensure that you understand your rights and obligations, your options in progressing your matter, and the possible impact on your weapons licence.

We can assist you with:

Possession of a weapon

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Storage Offences

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Impact on Weapons Licence

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Unregistered Firearms

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Types of Weapons

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Mandatory Sentencing

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Types of Weapons

A weapon is defined to be any instrument able to be used to inflict bodily harm.  The definition is broad, and captures many types of weapons.  In Queensland, many items are considered to be a weapon.  This includes guns, knives, martial arts weapons (such as nun chucks) and cross bows.

In Queensland, weapons are separated into different categories.  The categories of weapons in Queensland is as follows:-

CategoryExample of Weapons in Category
ARifles, single or double barrel shotguns, paintball guns, air rifles and powerheads
BCentre-fire rifles, shotgun/rifle combinations
CSemi-automatic shotguns, pump action shotguns, semi-automatic rim fire rifles
DSemi-automatic centre fire rifles, semi-automatic shotguns with more than five rounds and semi-automatic rim fire rifles with more than ten rounds
EBulletproof vests
HHandguns
MCrossbows, certain knives and other hand held items capable of causing bodily harm
RMachine guns, fully automatic large calibre military weapons.
RestrictedHandcuffs and thumb cuffs, nunchaku or kung-fu sticks, billy club or baton, laser pointer or any studded glove

The items included in each category are broad.  The above items are examples only.

Possession of a Weapon

There are strict restrictions and regulations regarding the possession and ownership of firearms throughout Australia.  In Queensland, all people in possession of firearms (and certain weapons) must hold an appropriate licence.

You will face significant penalties if you are convicted of possessing a weapon without a licence (or with the incorrect licence). In addition to the penalty imposed by the Court, a conviction will also have an impact on your ability to hold a weapons licence in the future.

It is important you seek legal advice if you are charged with possession of a weapon.

What is a weapon?

A weapon is defined to be any instrument able to be used to inflict bodily harm.  The definition is broad, and captures many types of weapons.  In Queensland, many items are considered to be a weapon.  This includes guns, knives, martial arts weapons (such as nun chucks) and cross bows.

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Do I need a weapons licence?

You must hold a licence to possess certain types of weapons, including cross bows, paintball guns and some knives.  You are also required to hold a licence for some restricted items, such as handcuffs and laser pointers.

The type of licence you will need is dependent on the category of weapon you wish to possess.  The most common type of weapons licence in Queensland is a “firearms licence”. A firearms licence allows the holder to possess and use Category A and/or B weapons.  These weapons include single shot or manual repeating rifles and shotguns and are commonly used in recreational shooting and animal management.

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What is the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a weapon?

The penalty likely to be imposed depends on the quantity and category of weapons in your possession.  The penalties range from a fine to a lengthy period of imprisonment.

It is important to understand the penalty that applies in your specific circumstances.  You should seek legal advice about your specific circumstances, and the penalty likely to be imposed on you.

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What Court will my matter be heard in?

The quantity and category of weapons in your possession will also impact the Court in which your matter will be heard.  More minor charges, such as possession of a flick knife, are able to be heard in the Magistrates Court.  However, more serious charges may be heard on indictment before the District or Supreme Court.

If you have been charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Unregistered Firearms

You must register all weapons in your possession.  It is an offence to possess an unregistered weapon, regardless of whether you hold an appropriate licence.  All weapons must be registered.

What Court will my charges be heard in?

Your charges will be heard before the Magistrates Court.

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What is the maximum penalty available for unlawfully possessing an unregistered firearm?

The maximum penalty is a fine of 120 penalty units.

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Will I keep my weapons licence?

Your ability to hold a weapons licence may be impacted if you are convicted of possessing an unregistered firearm.  It is important to seek legal advice to understand whether your licence will be revoked.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

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Storage Offences

You must ensure your weapon is kept in a secure location when not in use.  There must be a secure storage facility at the registered address of the weapon.  The storage provisions are strict, and it is an offence not to comply with those provisions.

What is a secure storage facility?

The storage requirements for your weapon depend on the type of weapon and the licence you hold.  For example, if you have a small number of Category A, B, C, E or M weapons, the weapons must be stored in a locked container.  The container must be securely fixed to the floor or frame of a permanent building if the container weighs less than 150kg.  The container must be locked.  Further, the weapons must be stored unloaded with the bolt removed or action broken.

The storage requirements change dependant on your licence.  If you are unsure about the storage requirements in your circumstances, you should seek legal advice.

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What Court will my charges be heard in?

Your charges will be heard in the Magistrates Court.

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What is the maximum penalty for failing to secure my weapon/s?

The maximum penalty able to be imposed is a period of imprisonment for two years, or a fine of 100 penalty units.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence seek legal advice as soon as possible.

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Impact on Weapons Licence

Your ability to hold a weapons licence may be impacted if you are charged with an offence relating to possession, registration or storage of weapons.

There are some offences which will automatically result in your licence being revoked.  These offences include:-

  • use of a weapon;
  • carriage of a weapon;
  • discharge of a weapon; and
  • possession of a weapon.

If you are convicted of one of these offences, you will not be considered a fit and proper person to hold a weapons licence.  It is likely your licence will be revoked.

Your capacity to hold a weapons licence may be impacted if you are charged with any weapons offence.  It is important you seek legal advice if you have been charged with an offence, and are concerned about the impact on your ability to hold a weapons licence.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Mandatory Sentencing

There are some weapons offences that result in a mandatory period of imprisonment.  The offences include:-

  • If you use a firearm to commit an indictable offence;
  • If you are in possession of a short firearm in a public place;
  • If you supply weapons to other people.

You will be required to spend time in custody if you are convicted of an offence listed above.  It is important you obtain legal advice to determine whether a period of mandatory imprisonment applies in your circumstances.

If you have been charged with a weapons offence seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Why it’s important to get advice

There is always a range in the severity of penalty that could be imposed, even in matters where a period of mandatory imprisonment applies.  The presiding Judge or Magistrate has discretion and will impose a penalty that is appropriate in your circumstances.

We can assist by ensuring the presiding Judge or Magistrate has all of the relevant information, and is aware of your particular circumstances and mitigating factors.  This can result in you having a lesser penalty imposed.

If you would like legal advice about your matter, or for our office to represent you, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

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