Domestic Violence and Firearms Licences (NSW)
Domestic violence can have serious implications for the holder of a firearms licence or prohibited weapons permit in New South Wales. Laws governing this are contained in the Firearms Act 1996, Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 and the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.
Seizure of firearms
Under section 80 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act, a police officer who enters a home to investigate a domestic violence offence must ask if there are firearms in the premises. If there is, the officer must take all reasonable action to search for and seize them. This action must be taken regardless of who owns the firearms.
The firearms are taken to a police station and stored there. Police photograph the firearms to document their description and condition, and notify the Firearms Registry that the firearms have been seized.
If a person’s firearms licence is not suspended, the person has 28 days from the seizure of the firearms to apply for their return. The application must be made in writing to the Commander of the Police Area or Police District. Any unclaimed firearms can be forfeited to the Crown.
Suspension of licence
A firearms licence must be suspended if:
- a domestic violence offence has been committed or threatened;
- the licence-holder is charged with a domestic violence offence.
The suspension takes effect when a Notice of Suspension is served. The notice states the grounds for suspension and can be served by police or by post.
A firearms licence is automatically suspended if the licence holder becomes subject to an interim Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). The suspension remains in place until the order is confirmed or revoked.
A person must not use or possess firearms or prohibited weapons while the suspension is in place. Any firearms or prohibited weapons and the associated licence or permit must be surrendered to police. Police also have the power to seize them. The items will remain with police until the suspension is lifted or the licence or permit is re-instated.
There is no right to review a licence-suspension decision to the Firearms Registry or NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but a letter can be sent to the Police Commissioner, via the Firearms Registry, to argue against licence revocation.
Apprehended Domestic Violence Order
An ADVO protects a person from violence, threats and harassment from a person with whom they have a “domestic relationship”, such as a spouse, de facto partner, ex-partner, family member, carer or person living in the same household.
A person subject to an ADVO is prohibited from assaulting, threatening, harassing, molesting, stalking, or otherwise interfering or intimidating the protected person, as well as destroying or damaging the protected person’s property. These are mandatory orders. Additional orders can include prohibitions or restrictions on the actions of the person subject to the ADVO, such as approaching the protected person or their home.
An interim ADVO is a temporary order made by a court until the application can be considered in full. An interim ADVO has the same effect as a final ADVO and remains in force until a final ADVO is made, or the application is withdrawn, or the application is dismissed by the court.
For a final order to be made, the person to be subject to an ADVO must either consent to the order, or if they do not consent, the application must go to a hearing and be decided after all the evidence is presented.
Revocation of licence
A firearms licence or prohibited weapon permit is automatically revoked if the holder becomes subject to an ADVO. The revocation takes effect when a Notice of Revocation is served or on a later date specified in the notice. The notice states the reason for revocation. It is served by police or by post, depending on whether firearms or prohibited weapons need to be seized. There is no right of review of a revocation decision based on the person being subject to an ADVO.
Any firearms or prohibited weapons and the associated licence or permit must be surrendered to police. Police also have the power to seize them. Police can destroy them or dispose of them via a firearms dealer.
Refusal of licence
A firearms licence or prohibited weapon permit cannot be issued to anyone who is subject to an ADVO or an interim ADVO, or who has been subject to an ADVO in the past 10 years. A Notice of Refusal is issued by the Firearms Registry and states the reason for refusal. There is no right of review of a decision to refuse a licence based on the person being subject to an ADVO.
Any firearms or prohibited weapons and the associated licence or permit must be surrendered to police. Police also have the power to seize them.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.