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That’s Not a Weapon – Is it?


Whether you agree or disagree with the policy, it is well known throughout Australia and even internationally that Australia maintains strict policies on individuals possessing firearms and weapons.

What is a firearm or weapon, you say? Well that’s a different story.

The full schedule of prohibited weapons and firearms are located within their respective pieces of legislation (Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 and Firearms Act 1996).

What has been set out below, however, are the entries that catch out the most people, those ones where I have heard the most people say: “that’s not a weapon, is it?”

1.Boxcutters

In NSW, there is available to Police, the charge of having custody of a knife in a public place. The definition of a knife includes razor blades and “any other blades”. This a common charge to come before the Local Courts. Boxcutters, Swiss army knives, utility knives, which include a blade amongst other tools, all fall within this broad definition.

They certainly are convenient, but, unless you fall within one of the statutory exceptions outlined in legislation, they are also illegal to have publicly.

2.Replica/Imitation Firearms

“But it’s just a toy!”

In NSW, unless the ‘toy’ is both produced and identified as a children’s toy, then the law does not differentiate between the imitation and the real thing. That means that for the purpose of charging and sentencing you for firearms offences, an imitation pistol will be taken to be a pistol, an imitation of a prohibited firearm will be taken to be that prohibited firearm. As I am sure you are all well aware, these carry very hefty penalties.

Something to think about when you’re planning your next Halloween costume!

3.Laser Pointers

Yes, they are useful to point out something on a whiteboard, or even to entertain a cat, but any laser pointer with a power output of more than 1 milliwatt is classified as a prohibited weapon.

The more developed science gets, the easier and cheaper it is to mass product lasers with a high power output. That makes it easier for someone to obtain, whether it is overseas or online.

4.Capsicum Spray

Can be used as a defence or anti-personnel spray, and can discharge “irritant matter?” If so, then yes, it is a prohibited weapon.

An added concern about capsicum sprays are that these items are legal in many other countries. If you purchase capsicum spray legally elsewhere and bring it back into Australia, not only are you in possession of a prohibited weapon, but you could also be facing importation charges.

5.Studded Gloves

A glove can be a prohibited weapon, as long as there are raised spikes or studs over the back of the glove. The reasoning behind this is that those studs or spikes would amplify any punch or strike.

Remember, the Court’s view is that it is your responsibility to check that you are not possessing a prohibited weapon. “I didn’t know” is no excuse.

Image Credit – Sergiy Tryapitsyn © 123RF.com

Written by Amanda Tsang on October 6, 2017

Having worked exclusively in criminal and traffic law, Amanda understands that those who come to Armstrong Legal do so at a difficult time. She understands that criminal offences have wide reaching consequences for all clients. As such, she is dedicated to using her knowledge and skills to obtain the best result possible in every case. View Amanda's profile


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