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This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Firearms Offences


The use of firearms in Western Australia is legislated under the Firearms Act 1973 (‘the Act’) and the Firearms Regulations 1974. The Act creates a range of offences involving the improper use, possession and storage of firearms. Failure to comply with the Act may result in a person having their firearms seized and being charged with firearms offences. A person’s firearms licence may also be revoked if they are charged with firearms offences.

Licensing Offences

It is a crime for an unlicensed person to possess, purchase, sell or carry firearms. Where three or more weapons are sold without a licence, a finding of guilt can result in imprisonment for a maximum of 14 years (The Act, Section 19).

However, where a person has held a firearms licence that has expired but can still be renewed, and the person possesses, purchases, sells or carries firearms, this is an offence that is punishable by a fine of up to $2000 only.

Storage Of Firearms Offences

A person who is licensed to possess firearms must ensure that all firearms are stored as set out in Schedule 4 of the Firearms Regulations. Schedule 4 states that firearms must be stored in a steel cabinet at least 2mm thick, which is locked and anchored from the inside to two or more immovable surfaces.

Section 23(9) of the  Act makes it an offence for a person responsible for a firearm not to provide and use adequate storage facilities or to comply with security requirements for the storage of a firearm. The maximum penalty for a first offence is a fine of $2,000 and for a second or subsequent offence, a fine of $4,000 or imprisonment for 12 months.

General Firearms Offences

Section 23 of the Act contains a range of general firearms offences. These firearms offences attract fines and terms of imprisonment and may also result in the seizure of firearms and the revocation of a person’s Firearms License.

These offences include:

  • Permitting a person who is drug or alcohol-affected or a person of unsound mind to take possession of a firearm (Maximum penalty $6,000 fine or 18 months imprisonment;
  • Physically possessing a firearm while affected by drugs or alcohol  If the firearm is loaded then the maximum penalties are imprisonment for a period of 2 years or a fine of $8 000, in any other case the maximum penalties are imprisonment for 18 months or a fine of $6,000.00.
  • Defacing or altering an identification mark on a firearm where the firearm was a handgun, or was modified in a prescribed manner (Maximum penalty imprisonment for seven years otherwise in any other case imprisonment for period of up to 4 years or a fine of $16 000
  • Possessing a firearm whose identification mark has been defaced or altered (Maximum penalty imprisonment for seven years);
  • Altering a firearm or possessing an altered firearm;
  • Use or possession of a silencer; (Maximum penalty imprisonment for seven years);
  • Pointing a firearm at a person (Maximum penalty imprisonment for three years or a fine of $12,000);
  • Failure to take reasonable precautions to ensure a firearm’s safekeeping (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
  • Allowing a child to have unlawful possession of a firearm (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
  • Discharging a firearm onto, from or across a road (Maximum penalty $2000 fine for a first offence, and $4,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months for a second or subsequent offence);
  • Failing to have and use adequate storage arrangements for a firearm;
  • Refusing to permit police to inspect the storage facilities provided for a firearm.
  • Discharging a firearm in a way that endangers the public (Maximum penalty imprisonment for 3 years or $12,000 fine)
  • Use of a firearm on another person’s property without their consent (Maximum penalty $2000 fine).

Firearms Infringements

General firearms offences can be dealt with by way of a Firearms Infringement. This means that the police issue the accused with an on-the-spot fine. If the accused pays the fine on time, they do not need to attend court and do not get a criminal record. The fine imposed with a Firearms Infringement is $421. It is at the police’s discretion to decide whether to issue a person with a Firearms Infringement or charge them with offences, which may require them to attend court.

If you receive a Firearms Infringement and want to contest the offence, you can write to Licensing Services and elect to have the matter dealt with by a court.

If you need legal advice about a firearms matter or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.  

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