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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Firearms Offences (Qld)


The law that governs firearms offences and the ownership, use and sale of firearms in Queensland is the Weapons Act 1990. Other offences relating to the use of firearms and other weapons can be found in the Criminal Code 1899. This article outlines some of those offences and the penalties they can attract. 

In Queensland, a person can only have a firearm if they are a police officer, a licensed dealer or obtained the firearm from a licensed dealer under a permit or another lawful authority.

Licences

A firearms licence allows a person to possess and use single shot and manual repeating rifles and shotguns in Queensland. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns can also be possessed under a firearms licence for particular specified reasons; however, a person must provide sufficient evidence to justify their need for these firearms.

A person can apply for a licence online or complete a paper application and lodge it at any police station. There are special licences for security guards and for dealers and collectors.

To get a gun licence a person must:

  • be over 18;
  • have during the previous 12 months successfully completed a firearms safety training course;
  • have secure storage for their guns;
  • have a genuine and legal reason for owning a gun, such as being a member of a gun club or a collector.
  • be a fit and proper person. 

The applicant may be asked to provide proof in support of their reason for needing a gun. In assessing whether an applicant is a fit and proper person, their criminal record and potential health issues are considered.

Young people and firearms

Young persons aged between 11 and 17 may apply for a gun licence in Queensland. Known as a minor’s licence, this licence enables the young person to learn to shoot and compete in sporting events, provided they are strictly supervised by a licensed adult.

Firearms offences involving identification marks and modifying weapons

Firearms offences exist in relation to modifying, altering or changing either the serial number of a firearm or its makeup or operation.

Offences of this type include:

  • modifying or altering the action or construction of a firearm;
  • possessing a firearm that has had its construction or action modified;
  • acquiring or selling a firearm which has had its construction or action modified;
  • making a firearm operable after it has been made permanently inoperable;
  • defacing or altering an identification mark such as a serial number on a firearm;
  • possessing a weapon that has been defaced or altered;
  • buying, selling, receiving, or passing on a weapon which has been defaced or altered.

The maximum penalty for these offences is a fine of 200 penalty units or four years in prison.

Firearms offences in public places

A number of firearms offences exist in Queensland relating to the use or possession of firearms in public places. 

A person must not:

  • carry a weapon that is exposed to public view in a public place;
  • carry a replica weapon in public;
  • carry a firearm that is loaded or a weapon that is capable of being discharged, in a public place;
  • go armed with a firearm in a public place in such a manner as would cause a person to feel fear;
  • fire or in any way discharge a firearm in, towards, into, over, or through a public place.

Penalties for these offences range from a fine of up to 200 penalty units to imprisonment for anywhere between three months and two years.

Unlawful possession

A number of firearms offences in Queensland relate to the possession of firearms.

Under section 50 of the Weapons Act, a person must not unlawfully possess a weapon. The penalty for this offence depends on the category of weapons and the number of weapons possessed. If the weapon is used to commit or facilitate an indictable offence or if it is possessed in a public place without a reasonable excuse, then a mandatory term of imprisonment served wholly in a correctional facility applies.  

Under section 50A of the Weapons Act, a person must not possess an unregistered firearm. This offence is punishable by a fine of 120 penalty units.

Storing weapons

A licensee must have secure storage facilities for firearms when they are not in their physical possession, and they must ensure the firearm is stored in those secure facilities. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of 100 penalty units or 2 years in prison.

Shortening firearms

It is a criminal offence to shorten a firearm or to possess, acquire or sell a firearm that has been shortened. The maximum penalty for this is a fine of 100 penalty units or 2 years in prison.

Firearms offences under the Criminal Code

A number of criminal offences under the Criminal Code may be committed with the use of firearms or other weapons. It is common for an offence to be charged with a circumstance of aggravation consisting of the use of a weapon. For example, the offence of assault occasioning bodily harm can be aggravated if a weapon is used to commit the assault (section 339) and a sexual assault can be aggravated if the offender is in possession of a weapon (section 352).

Stealing firearms to use in the commission of an indictable offence is an offence under section 14 of the Code and is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Stealing firearms or ammunition is punishable by up to ten years imprisonment.

The offence of receiving tainted property under section 433 of the Code is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment if the property received is a firearm or ammunition.

Threatening violence with the use of a firearm which is discharged is a crime punishable by up to two years imprisonment under section 75.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

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