Many are reliant upon the ability to hold a firearms licence to earn their livelihood. For others, a firearms licence is a requirement to participate in their pastime of recreational and sporting shooting. Queensland has strict firearms licencing laws. A conviction for firearms related offences can see a suspension or revoking of your licence as well as the prevention of holding a licence for a prescribed period of time.
At Gilshenan & Luton, we are able to advise and provide representation in all areas of weapons licencing including:
responding to suspension or revocation notices issued by the Authorised Officer;
conducting a review of decisions made by the Authorised Officer in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal;
providing representation in criminal charges relating to the use, possession and storage of firearms;
advising individuals and corporations involved in the manufacturing and sale of firearms.
Lawful reasons for possessing a firearm’s licence
The Weapons Act 1990 (‘Weapons Act’) and Weapons Regulation 2016 (‘Weapons Regulation’) establish a strict firearms licensing regime in Queensland.
The lawful reasons for obtaining and possessing a firearms licence are varied and include:
sports or target shooting;
collecting of weapons; and
Categories of firearms
A licence can permit a person to possess one or more categories of firearms. Commonly issued categories of licences include:
Category A – air rifle, rimfire rifle and shotguns (other than a lever action, pump or self-loading shotgun);
Category B – centre-fire rifle, lever action shotgun (with a capacity of 5 rounds or less);
Category C – semi-automatic rim-fire rifle (with a capacity of 10 rounds or less), semi-automatic shotgun (with a capacity of 5 rounds or less), a pump action shotgun (with a capacity of 5 rounds or less);
Category D – A self-loading centre-fire rifle, a self-loading or pump action or lever action shotgun (with a capacity greater than 5 rounds), a rim-fire rifle (with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds);
Category H – A firearm under 75mm in length.
The most common categories of licence issued are Category A and Category B.
Firearms licensing and Queensland Police
The Weapons Licensing section of the Queensland Police Service are responsible for the issuing and management of firearms licences in Queensland.
The power to make decisions under the Weapons Act is delegated to an ‘Authorised Officer.’
An Authorised Officer is a police officer appointed by the Commissioner of Police to make decisions on the approval, rejection, suspension and revocation of Weapons Act licences. It is the Authorised Officer who considers the genuine reason and “fit and proper” provisions of the Weapons Act when determining firearms licence applications.
QCAT reviews – refused, revoked and suspended firearms licences
A decision made by an Authorised Officer to refuse, revoke or suspend a licence is reviewable in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’).
Once an application to review is filed in the Tribunal, the Tribunal member takes the place of the Authorised Officer and determines the matter.
The most common types of applications of review made to the Tribunal include:
a decision not to renew a firearms licence for a particular category; A common example is a primary producer who has held a category H licence for many years and is applying to renew their licence. The Authorised Officer decides that they no longer have a genuine reason to possess a category H firearm.
a decision to suspend a firearms licence; A common example is where the Authorised Officer receives information that a person may no longer be a fit and proper person having regard to their mental fitness and decides to suspend a licence until further evidence of the licence holder’s mental fitness is received from a medical practitioner.
a decision to revoke a firearms licence; A common example is where a person is the subject of a domestic violence order or is convicted of a criminal offence and the Authorised Officer decides that the licence holder is no longer a fit and proper person.
A conviction for a firearms-related offence can result in the person no longer being a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence for a 5-year period.
A person is no longer a fit and proper to hold a firearms licence for a period of 5 years from when a person is convicted of any of the following offences or discharged from custody having been convicted of any of these offences:
An offence involving the use or threatened use of violence;
An offence involving the use, carriage, discharge or possession of a weapon.
Many criminal offences, even those that may be considered as relatively minor such as a common assault or possession of a small amount of cannabis, have the potential to impact upon the ability to hold a firearms licence.
Firearms offences and imprisonment
The Weapons Act provides that mandatory periods of imprisonment must be imposed by the court for certain firearms offences. The types of offences that could see a mandatory prison sentence include:
unlawful possession of a firearm used to commit an indictable offence;
unlawful possession of a firearm for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of an indicatable offence; and
possession of a short firearm in a public place without a reasonable excuse.
Legal advice and representation for firearms offences
It is vitally important for the holder of a firearms licence, or a person intending to apply for a firearms licence in the future, to obtain expert legal advice if charged with any offence; not just weapons related offences.
The steps that are taken prior to your matter being finalised in court can make the difference between being able to hold a firearms licence and being prevented for 5 years or more.