In order to be able to possess and use a firearm in NSW, you will be required to have a NSW firearms licence.
The NSW Police Force undertakes the issuing and policing of firearms licences and permits, and there is a rigorous approval process in place.
Because the approvals process is so stringent, there are a number of reasons why you might be refused a firearms licence in NSW, including:
If you have a criminal record
There are certain criminal convictions that will automatically disqualify you from owning a firearm.
These are known as ‘prescribed offences’, and they include:
- Sexual offences
- Violent offences
- Offences related to prohibited drugs
- Terrorism-related offences
- Offences relating to organised crime and criminal groups
- Firearms or weapons offences
- Fraud, dishonesty and stealing offences
If you have been convicted of a prescribed offence within the last 10 years, your firearms licence application will be refused, and you will be required to surrender any firearms you possess.
If you have been issued with an AVO or interim AVO
If you have been issued with an AVO in the last ten years, you will not be allowed to hold a NSW firearms licence.
If you have a current licence and you are issued with an interim AVO, you will be required to hand your firearms licence as well as any firearms you have in to police at the time you are served with the order.
If you don’t have a ‘genuine reason’ for having a firearm
When you apply for a firearms licence in NSW, you need to state the reason you want to possess and use firearms.
There are a number of different reasons which are considered genuine reasons to own a firearm, including being a member of a sporting club, if you are a professional pest controller, and if you live on rural property and regularly go hunting.
If your reason for applying for a firearms licence does not fit the approved criteria, your application may be refused.
You have not completed an approved firearms training course
Approved firearms training is mandatory before you can get a firearms licence.
Before you apply, make sure you have completed a suitable course and include proof with your application.
You are not considered a ‘fit and proper’ person
Your application for a firearms licence may be refused if there are grounds to believe that possessing a firearm could be a danger to public safety, or breach the peace.
Some of the reasons you may not be considered a fit and proper person include a history of mental health problems, such as self-harm and suicide, any history of domestic violence offences, and whether there is any criminal intelligence to suggest that you should not hold a firearms licence.
Can I appeal if my application is refused?
If your NSW firearms licence is refused, you can request an internal review.
This must be done in writing, and sent to the firearms registry within 28 days after receiving notification of the refusal of your application.
You can either fill out the review request yourself, or ask a criminal lawyer to do it for you.
Make sure you include any supporting documentation and state your reasons for requesting the review.
If the internal review is refused, you may lodge a review with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to review the decision.
You must do this within 28 days of the unfavourable internal review.
The NCAT has the power to review all ‘discretionary’ refusals, suspensions or revocations of a firearms licence, but does not have the power to review ‘mandatory refusals’/
For more information about firearms licences and reviews, contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer.