Safe keeping of firearms
In NSW, it is a requirement of firearm owners to take all reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm is kept in safekeeping, that it doesn’t get lost or stolen and that it does not come into possession of a person who is not authorised to possess the firearm.
A contravention of the above requirements can carry up to 50 penalty units in fines and 2 years imprisonment depending on the type of firearm involved. There are different requirements for safekeeping depending on the category of firearm licence that you hold.
In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for this charge:
- Prison Sentence
- Home Detention
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO)
- Suspended Sentence
- Community Service Order (CSO)
- Community Corrections Orders (CCO)
- Good Behaviour Bond
- Section 10A
- Conditional Release Order (CRO)
- Section 10
The Offence of Failing to Keep Safe Firearms
The offence of Unregistered Firearms is contained in section 39 of the Firearms Act 1996 which states: a person who possesses a firearm must take all reasonable precautions to ensure:
- its safe keeping, and
- that it is not stolen or lost, and
- that it does not come into the possession of a person who is not authorised to possess the firearm.
Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both, if it is established beyond reasonable doubt that the firearm concerned was a prohibited firearm or a pistol, or 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months, or both, in any other case.
What Actions Might Constitute an Offence of Failing to Keep Firearm Safely?
- Not keeping your firearm stores in a locked receptacle that is of a type approved by the Commissioner
- Keeping your firearm in a receptacle that is easily penetrable
- Not having the receptacle appropriately fixed to a wall
- Not keeping any ammunition separate from the receptacle containing the firearm
- Not keeping any ammunition is a locked container of a type approved by the Commissioner
What the Police Must Prove
To convict you of not keeping a firearm safely, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you were in possession of a firearm; and
- You failed to take all reasonable precautions to ensure:
- Its safe keeping; or
- That it was not stolen or lost; or
- That it did not come into the possession of an unauthorised person.
Possible Defences to Failing to Keep a Firearm Safely
Possible defences to failing to keep a firearm safely include but are not limited to:
- That your firearm was in fact kept safely
- That you were not in possession of the firearm
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
This matter is a summary matter and will be heard in the Local Court.
Types of Penalties:
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. the court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. a suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. the court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. the maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): a CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): a CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.