Criminal Law

Overview of Western Australia's Firearm Laws

The use of firearms in Western Australia is governed by the Firearms Act 1973 (WA) (Act) and the Firearms Regulations 1974 (WA) (Regulations). The Act and Regulations provide a comprehensive legislative scheme that establish various offences with respect to the improper use, storage and possession of firearms in Western Australia.

People with an interest in the possession or use of firearms should understand the key legislative provisions as failure to comply may result in the following consequences:

  • revocation of firearms licence;
  • seizure of firearms; and/or
  • being charged with firearms offences.

The following table summarises the Act in terms of its key offences and penalties imposed:

Relevant Section

Offence

Indictable Penalty

Summary Conviction Penalty

19(1) Possess, purchase, sell or carry firearm/s without a licence to do so. A term of imprisonment for 5 years. A term of imprisonment for 3 years or a fine of $12,000.
23(1) Permit possession of any firearm or ammunition to be taken by another person who is affected by alcohol and/or drugs or if that person is of unsound mind. Summarily penalty applies only A term of imprisonment for 18 months or a fine of $6,000.
23(2) Carry or be in physical possession of a firearm whilst affected by alcohol and/or drugs. Summarily penalty applies only (a)If the firearm is loaded, a term of imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of $8,000.
(b) Otherwise, a term of imprisonment for 18 months or a fine of $6,000.
23(3) Carry or use a firearm without a licence. (a) If the firearm was a handgun or a prescribed firearm, a term of imprisonment for 7 years.
(b) Otherwise, a term of imprisonment for 4 years or a fine of $16,000.
If (a) applies, a term of imprisonment of 3 years or a fine of $12,000.
If (b) applies, a term of imprisonment of 2 years or a fine of $8,000.
23(5) Without lawful excuse deface or alter the identification number of a firearm. (a) If the firearm was a handgun or was modified in a prescribed manner, on conviction, a term of imprisonment for 7 years.
(b) Otherwise, on conviction to a term of imprisonment for 4 years or a fine of $16,000.
If (a) applies, a term of imprisonment for 3 years or a fine of $12,000.
If (b) applies, a term of imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of $8,000.
23(6) Without lawful excuse use a contrivance commonly known as a silencer. Summarily penalty applies only Term of imprisonment for 7 years.
23(7) A person commits an offence if they are in possession of a silence. Can only be dealt with summarily. Term of imprisonment of 3 years or a fine of $12,000.
23(1) Without lawful excuse discharges a firearm, or any shot, bullet or other missile from a firearm, to the danger of, or in a manner to cause fear to, the public or any person. Summarily penalty applies only Term of imprisonment for 3 years or a fine of $12,000.

Other general offences

In addition to the offences mentioned in the table above, s 23 imposes financial penalties in relation to the following offences:

  • a maximum fine of $2,000 if a person uses a firearm on land belonging to another person without their consent; and
  • a maximum fine of $2,000 if a person carries a firearm onto or across land that is used for or in primary production without the consent of the owner or occupier of that land.

 

Licensing offences Under section 19 of the Firearms Act

The penalty imposed for firearms licencing offences vary depending on the circumstances of the offending. The penalties imposed on a person who carries, sells or disposes of a firearm without a licence in certain circumstances include:

  • a term of imprisonment of up to 14 years if a person sold 3 or more firearms without holding a firearms licence;
  • a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years if a person was in possession of 3 or more firearms without holding a firearms licence;
  • a term of imprisonment of 14 years if a person at the time of offending was in possession of a prohibited drug/plant or in possession of money equal to or greater than the prescribed amount; and
  • a term of imprisonment of 7 years if a person at the time of offending had been refused or disqualified from holding a licence, or had their licence revoked.

If a person holds an expired firearms licence that is still capable of being renewed, and the person possesses, purchases, sells or carries the firearm the maximum penalty is fine of $2000.

 

Storage offences

A person licensed to possess firearms must ensure that the firearms are to be stored in a cabinet made of steel that is at least 2mm thick. The cabinet must be kept locked and anchored from the inside to at least two immovable surfaces.

A person commits an offence if they do not provide adequate storage facilities as described above for their firearm or ammunition. For a first offence, the penalty is a maximum fine of $2,000. For any subsequent offence, the penalty imposed is a term of imprisonment for 12 months or a fine of $4,000.

 

Firearms Infringements

Section 19A of the Firearms Act provides that court proceedings will not be brought against a person who holds an expired licence and commits an offence under the Act between the date of expiry and the date on which renewal was affected, in circumstances where the offence would not have arisen if the licence was renewed on time.

Police have the discretion to issue an infringement as an alternative option to deal with offences arising the Act. A Firearms Infringement is an on-the-spot fine of $421.00. Paying the fine on time will alleviate any need to go to court and the infringement will not appear on a criminal record.

However, if an Infringement is issued and a person does not believe they are responsible for the offence, the matter may be dealt with by a court by way of a written request to Licensing Services.

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