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Secure Storage of Weapons

Section 60 of the Weapons Act 1990 creates a requirement for all weapons (which includes firearms) to be securely stored when not in use.

Secure storage means storage in a facility or place which meets the specifications set down in Regulation 78 of the Weapons Regulation 1996. In brief, it means a rigid, lockable, structure (made of steel or solid timber) which, depending on the category of weapon to be stored, is bolted to the floor or frame of a permanent building.

Additionally, in relation to firearms, secure storage means storage in an unloaded condition with the bolt removed or the action broken.

The maximum penalty for a failure to securely store a weapon is 100 penalty unit and/or 2 years’ imprisonment.

It is, additionally, an offence under section 60 for the registered owner of a firearm to fail to make available a secure storage facility for each firearm that is generally kept at their address (or whatever address the firearm is registered as generally being kept at).

What Actions Might Constitute not Storing Weapons Securely?

  • Having the correct storage facility but leaving it unlocked.
  • Not having the correct storage facility for your specific weapon.
  • Having the correct storage facility but failing to unload the weapon.

What the Police Must Prove:

In order to convict you of failing to securely store a weapon, it must be proved that:

  • you are the licensee of the subject weapon; and
  • you had control of that weapon at a particular place; and
  • yhile not in use, the weapon was not securely stored.

Will I Receive a Criminal Conviction for not Storing Weapons Securely?

As a starting point you should assume that a conviction will be recorded against you if you are found guilty of failing to securely store a weapon, but it is not inevitable. If you have been charged with failing to securely store a weapon and are concerned about a conviction being recorded against you, contact one of Armstrong Legal’s criminal law team to discuss ways in which you might avoid that outcome.

Possible Defences to Not Storing Weapons Securely

Possible defences to a charge of failing to store weapons securely include, but are not limited to:

  • disputing that you were the licensee of the weapons (Identity);
  • disputing that the weapons were stored correctly;
  • raising duress or necessity as the reason for the offence.

Which Court Will Hear My Matter?

The offence of failing to securely store a weapon, or failing to provide a secure storage facility for a registered firearm, will be heard and determined in the Magistrates Court.

Types of Penalties

Imprisonment: Even though it is not a sentence of last resort (as it is in some other states) imprisonment is the most serious penalty which a court can impose upon a person. At its most severe a sentence of imprisonment means that a person must spend a specified period of time within a correctional facility, also called a prison, a jail or a gaol.

Intensive corrections order (ICO): An Intensive Corrections Order (‘ICO’ for short) is, technically, a form of imprisonment but which is served wholly in the community. This means that a person who is made subject to an ICO will not spend any time in prison but will, instead, be required to adhere to a number of requirements that the court will order.

Probation: A court can make a Probation Order either by itself, meaning the whole of the sentence is probation, or as a component of a sentence of imprisonment, meaning that a person is ordered to serve a period of time (not longer than 1 year) in prison and is then subject to a probation requirement upon release.

Community service order (CSO): As the name implies, a Community Service Order is an order which requires a person to perform unpaid work, normally at some kind of community facility, for a stated number of hours (to a maximum of 240) within a nominated time (usually 6 or 12 months).

Recognisance: A recognisance is a promise which a person makes to be of good behaviour for a stated period of time. A court is empowered to release a person who enters into a recognisance, either with a surety, which is a sum of money which the person agrees to pay if they breach the recognisance, or without one.

Fines: A court is empowered to impose a fine, which is a sum of money which a person is required to pay to the State, for any offence regardless of whether the law creating it nominates a fine as part of the applicable penalty.

Section 19 dismissal: A court can discharge a person absolutely, or upon them entering into a recognisance, without recording a conviction against them, if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so.

In all cases where you are sentenced to a penalty other than jail, the court can choose not to record a conviction against you, meaning your criminal record will remain clear and any complications with work or travel may be avoided.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

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...

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