Beware of Australia’s laws on possession of firearms

Australia’s laws around possession of firearms are extremely strict and not everyone is aware of them. The penalties for falling fowl of the law in this area can be severe.

In rural communities especially, where firearms are often passed through generations, it is crucial that everyone understands their obligations, to ensure they are not put in a situation where they face prison time for unwittingly committing an offence.

Here’s what you need to know:


  1. A person cannot possess a firearm unless they have a licence to hold that category of firearm.


  1. Whenever any type of firearm is purchased or acquired, a permit must be obtained (See NSW Police for details).


  1. Each firearm must be registered with the Firearms Registry. This will include the location and method of storage for all firearms which must be complied with and not changed without notifying the Firearms Registry.


  1. It is also an offence to possess firearms parts without a permit including bullets, triggers, barrels and the like. If you are purchasing or acquiring parts for a firearm, you may already have a license for, it is essential to obtain a permit to possess those parts as they are not included in the license you already have.


For those who have grown up and lived in rural communities their entire lives, where gun ownership for legitimate farming and hunting purposes is common, some of the above rules may come as a surprise.

It is important to understand that lack of knowledge of the law in this area will not be a valid defence if you are charged with firearms related offences. At Hughes & Co. we have seen numerous examples whereby firearms have been passed down through generations or between friends without the recipient realising they needed a license and to register those firearms.

The maximum penalty for unauthorised possession of a firearm is five (5) years imprisonment. If the matter is being dealt with in the local court, the maximum penalty is two (2) years imprisonment.

If you are charged with a firearms related offence, contact a lawyer immediately. They will help you understand your options and provide you with sound advice on the best way forward for you.

The material included in this article is designed and intended to provide general information about a legal topic. This article does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to be a substitute for such advice. We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice about your specific circumstances or in relation to any legal issue you or your organisation may have.