Can you own a weapon legally in Queensland?

Can you own a weapon legally in Queensland?

There are several reasons why you may want to own a firearm. Self protection, hunting or simply as a hobby. However, firearm ownership is heavily regulated in Queensland as it is throughout Australia.

If you are charged with a firearm offence you should consult criminal lawyers in Brisbane City. Firearms offences can carry hefty penalties, including terms of imprisonment.

Firearms offences are not limited to possession. There are also strict laws about what you can and can’t do to a firearm, even if you are licensed to possess one. Firearms are governed by the Weapons Act 1990, with additional offences set out in the Criminal Code 1899.

Owning a firearm

To own a firearm, you must obtain a Firearms Licence. If granted, this will allow you to possess and use single shot and manual repeating rifles and shotguns. Possession of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns is further restricted: to possess these you will need to provide further evidence to justify why you need them.

Firearms licences will only be granted to applicants who are:

  • Over the age of 18 years (unless applying for a minor’s licence, which enables 11-17 year olds to use firearms in a limited set of circumstances under strict adult supervision); and
  • A fit and proper person, having regard to any existing criminal record and potential health issues;
  • Able to show a genuine and legal reason for owning a gun; and
  • Who have secure storage for their firearms.

You must get your firearm from a licensed dealer, police officer or other authorised person.

Unlawful possession vs possessing an unregistered firearm

Section 50 (1) of the Weapons Act holds that ‘a person may not unlawfully possess a weapon’. Unlawful possession occurs where you own a weapon without the correct licence.

Section 50A of the Weapons Act makes it an offence to possess an unregistered firearm. This offence occurs where:

  • You hold a firearms licence (and are not a licensed firearms dealer or armourer); and
  • You possess a firearm which is not registered with the Queensland Police.

Penalties

The penalty for either unlawfully possessing a firearm or possessing an unregistered firearm can range from a fine to a period of imprisonment.

If you are charged with a firearms offence, it is vital that you get expert legal advice from experienced criminal lawyers in Brisbane City as soon as possible. This will help you to understand your options and whether you have a valid defence.

The penalty depends on a range of circumstances, including the category of the weapon. It will increase if you:

  • Have multiple weapons;
  • Have weapons that fall into certain categories;
  • Have used the weapon to commit an offence

For some categories of firearms, it is aggravated if you possess these weapons in a public place (this includes a car). The mandatory penalty for these offences involve 12 months imprisonment served wholly in a correctional centre.

Other firearms offences

You are restricted as to what you can do to a firearm, even if you hold the correct licence and the firearm is appropriately registered. For example, you cannot:

  • Modify or alter the action or construction of the firearm
  • Buy, sell or possess a firearm which has had its action or construction modified
  • Deface or alter a serial number or other identification mark
  • Buy, sell, possess, receive or pass on a firearm which has been defaced or altered
  • Make operable a firearm which has been made permanently inoperable
  • Shorten a firearm or buy, sell or possess a shortened firearm

Penalties for these offences range from a hefty fine to significant periods of imprisonment.

If you are convicted of a firearms offence, it can have a serious impact on your life. Get in touch with us at Hounsell Cunningham, experienced criminal lawyers in Brisbane city. We will advise you on your options, suggest ways to reduce the penalty if possible and guide you through the court process.

Call us on (07) 3188 5626 today.