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Intervention Orders and Firearms Licences (Vic)

An intervention order can have serious implications for the holder of a firearms licence. An intervention order – a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) or a Personal Safety Intervention Order  (PSIO) – can be made under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 or the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010. The impact of an intervention order on a firearms licence in Victoria is determined by these Acts and the Firearms Act 1996.

Family Violence Protection Act

Under this Act, if a court intends to make an FVIO, it must ask whether the subject of the order:

  • holds a firearms licence; or
  • has a weapons exemption (e.g. for sport); or
  • has a weapons approval (e.g. to make or sell weapons).

If the order is an interim one, it can include a condition that the licence, exemption or approval is suspended. If the order is a final one, it can include a condition that the licence, exemption or approval is cancelled or revoked.

Seizure of firearms

A police officer can order the surrender of a firearm if the officer enters a home to investigate a domestic violence offence and there is a FVIO in place, and the officer knows there is a firearm there. The officer can direct the person subject to the FVIO to immediately surrender the firearm, or issue a written notice to the person ordering them to surrender the firearm at a specified place within a specified time. If a person refuses to comply with an order to immediately surrender the firearms, the police officer must seize it. If a person fails to comply with a firearm surrender request, they are liable to a maximum fine of $9913.20.

A police officer also has authority to search a premises or a vehicle without a warrant if there is an FVIO in place, or the officer reasonably suspects there is one in place, and the officer reasonably suspects the person subject to the FVIO possesses a firearm.

Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act

Under this Act, the same rules apply to a PSIO as for an FVIO in regards to the power of the court and of a police officer. A PSIO applies to all relationships that are not domestic ones.

Firearms Act

Under this Act, a FVIO or PSIO can result in the order subject becoming a “prohibited person”.

The Act lists many criteria that classify a person as a prohibited person but in relation to intervention orders, a prohibited person is a person who is subject to a final FVIO or a final PSIO. The classification remains for the duration of the order and for 5 years after it ends. A prohibited person must not possess, carry or use a firearm. The maximum penalty is 1200 penalty units ($198,264) or imprisonment for 10 years. A firearms licence is automatically cancelled when the licence holder becomes a prohibited person.

An interim FVIO or interim PSIO does not classify a person as a prohibited person unless the order contains conditions or rules for firearms.

Appealing a licence decision

Under section 189 of the Firearms Act, a person can apply to be deemed not a prohibited person, but this is only possible where the order does not contain conditions cancelling a firearms licence. In assessing an application, the court will consider factors such as:

  • whether a firearm was involved in the circumstances that led to the FVIO or PSIO;
  • whether the person has a genuine and healthy interest in firearms and has a legitimate reason for wanting to hold a firearms licence;
  • the applicant’s criminal record;
  • how people protected by the order feel about the application.

The court can refuse the application, or it can declare the person is not deemed a prohibited person for all purposes under the Act, or for some purposes, or for one purpose.

Interstate orders

Under the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme Act 2016, a domestic violence order or intervention order issued in a state or territory other than Victoria is considered the same as one issued in Victoria. This means a person subject to an interstate order may be considered a prohibited person and be ineligible for a firearms licence or possess, use or carry firearms in the state.

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

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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