We understand that your firearms licence is important.
Click on a link below for information about firearms licences and how Sydney Criminal Lawyers® can assist you.
Restrictions on Issuing Firearms Licences
Being denied a firearms licence for work or other purposes can be frustrating and time-consuming.
If you’ve been unfairly refused a firearms licence for no good reason, our experienced lawyers can request an internal review of the decision by the Commissioner of Police. We will prepare all documentation and evidence to support your case and show why you require a firearms licence.
Should your application be further refused, we can request an appeal by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
What do I have to prove before I can get a firearms licence?
The law imposes rigorous restrictions to ensure that only suitable persons are issued with a firearms licence.
To obtain a firearms licence, you must prove to the Commissioner of Police that you:
- Are a fit and proper person and that you can be trusted to possess the firearm without causing danger to the public safety or peace.
- You have completed a firearms training and safety course.
- You can comply with the safety and storage requirements for the weapon or firearm.
- You are a resident of NSW, or you are going to become a resident of NSW in the near future.
- You must also prove that you have a ‘genuine reason’ for possessing or using the firearm.
What is a ‘fit and proper person’?
When determining whether you are a ‘fit and proper person,’ the Commissioner of Police can consider a range of personal traits, such as:
- Your ‘way of life or domestic situation’ – for example, if you live on a farm and require the firearm to maintain livestock.
- Whether you have previously attempted suicide or self-harm.
- Your mental state and any ‘abnormal habits’.
What is a ‘genuine reason’ for using or possessing a firearm?
To be issued with a firearms licence, you must prove to the Commissioner of Police that you have a ‘genuine reason’ for possessing or using a firearm.
A genuine reason does not include personal protection, protection of other people, or protection of property. For example, you will be denied a licence where your only reason for having a firearm is to protect against intruders or trespassers.
Genuine reasons for having a firearms licence include:
- Sport or target shooting, if you are a member of an approved shooting club.
- Recreational hunting or vermin control, if you are a member of an approved hunting club AND you own or reside on rural land, or the owner or occupier of rural land has given you permission to hunt or control vermin on their land.
- Primary production (for example, farming) where you are the owner, leaser or manager of land used for primary production, and you require the firearm solely for farming or grazing activities.
- Vertebrate pest control, where you are a professional contract shooter, or you are engaged by the government for animal control purposes.
- Business or employment – for example, where you require a firearms licence for rural purposes.
- Animal welfare, where you are a special constable of the RSPCA or Animal Welfare League, a vet, or someone employed by the Department of Primary Industries or the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities Division of the government, with a responsibility for animal welfare, or an owner, transporter, drover or handler of animals who might need to destroy an animal to prevent suffering.
- Firearms collecting, where you are a member of a collectors’ society and you have a written statement from the society confirming that your collection has a genuine commemorative, historical, thematic or financial value.
Why might I be refused a firearms licence?
You cannot be granted a firearms licence if:
- You are under the age of 18
- If you’ve been convicted in Australia of a ‘prescribed offence’ in the past 10 years (see below for a list of ‘prescribed offences’)
- If you are currently, or have previously been subject to an AVO
- If you are subject to a good behaviour bond in Australia (including a s 10 good behaviour bond) for a ‘prescribed offence.’
- If you are subject to a firearms prohibition order.
You may also be refused a firearms licence where the Commissioner of Police has received criminal intelligence information that:
- You pose a risk to public safety, or
- It would not be in the public interest to issue you with a firearms licence
In these situations, the Commissioner does not have to give reasons for denying you a licence.
What is a prescribed offence?
The law says that you may be denied a firearms licence if you’ve been convicted of a ‘prescribed offence’ in Australia in the past 10 years.
‘Prescribed offences’ include:
- An offence involving the possession or use of a firearm or weapon, such as an armed robbery.
- A drug offence where you received a sentence of 6 months imprisonment or more, and/or a fine of $2,200 or more.
- An offence involving the infliction of ‘actual bodily harm,’ or attempting, threatening or conspiring to commit actual bodily harm, where you received a sentence of 28 days imprisonment or more, and/or a fine of $200 or more. Actual bodily harm that is harm that is more than merely transient or trifling – for example, bruises or scratches, OR some form of serious psychological injury.
- An offence involving kidnapping or abduction, stalking or intimidation, or attempting, threatening or conspiring to commit such an offence.
- An offence of a sexual nature under sections 38, 61-80AA, 91C-91H and 111-113 of the Crimes Act or under s 11G of the Summary Offences Act, or an attempt or threat to commit any of these offences.
- An offence of fraud, dishonesty or stealing where you received a sentence of imprisonment for 3 months or more.
- A robbery offence.
- A terrorism offence.
Offences that Disqualify Applicants
Clause 5 of the Firearms Regulation 1996 (NSW) states that a firearms licence or permit cannot be issued for the following offences, or for equivalent offences in Australia or overseas:
- Any offence of possessing or using a firearm or any other weapon,
- Any drug offence where a sentence of 6 months imprisonment or more and/or fine of $2,200 or more is imposed,
- Any offence involving infliction of ‘actual bodily harm’ – or attempting, threatening or conspiring to commit actual bodily harm – where a sentence of 28 days imprisonment fine of $200 or more is imposed,
- Any offence involving kidnapping or abduction, stalking or intimidation, or attempting, threatening or consipring to commit such an offence,
- Any offence of a ‘sexual nature’ under Part 3, Divisions 10, 15 or 15A of the Crimes Act which are sections 61 – 80AA and 91C – 91H, including any offences under sections 38, 111, 112 or 113 of the Crimes Act where there is an attempt to commit offences under the previously stated sections, any offence under section 11G of the Summary Offences Act, or any equivalent offence outside NSW, or any attempt to commit, threatening to commit or conspiring to commit any of the said offences,
- Any offence of fraud, dishonesty or stealing where a sentence of 3 months imprisonment or more was imposed,
- Any offence involving robbery,
- Any offence relating to terrorism.
Additionally, a firearms licence cannot be issued to any person under a good behaviour bond for any of the above offences.
Suspension or Revocation of Firearms Licences
In some situations, the Commissioner of Police can suspend or revoke your firearms licence. Understandably, this can have a significant impact on your ability to work or engage in leisure pursuits, such as hunting or firearms collecting.
However, with the right legal team on your side, you can fight to get your firearms licence back, so that you can continue working or pursuing your hobbies as you please.
In what situations can my firearms licence be suspended or revoked?
Under the Firearms Act, the Commissioner of Police has the power to either suspend or revoke your licence in certain situations.
A suspension is a temporary cancellation of your firearms licence until a final decision has been made about whether or not you can keep the licence. If you have received a notice stating that your licence has been suspended, you will not be allowed to possess or use firearms during the specified suspension period. If you do so, you may face heavy penalties.
A revocation is where a decision has been made to permanently revoke your firearms licence. You will not be able to possess or use firearms once your licence has been revoked unless you manage to have the revocation overturned.
There are many circumstances which may give rise to your firearms licence being revoked or suspended. One of the most common situations is where you have been charged with a domestic violence offence, or where the Commissioner reasonably believes that you threatened or committed a domestic violence offence.
Other examples of situations in which your licence can be revoked include:
- Where you are no longer seen to be a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a firearms licence – for example, where you have mental health problems or where you have threatened self-harm or suicide.
- If you’ve committed a ‘prescribed offence’ – see our page ‘Restrictions on issuing firearms licences’ for a full list of prescribed offences.
- In certain situations, if you’re subject to a good behaviour bond (including a section 10 bond (now conditional release order without conviction)).
What happens if my firearms licence is suspended?
Generally, before your firearms licence can be permanently revoked, it will be temporarily suspended to allow you to respond to the decision before your licence is permanently cancelled. Until a final decision has been made, you will not be allowed to possess or use firearms.
If a decision has been made to suspend your firearms licence, the Commissioner of Police will issue you with a notice informing you that your licence has been suspended and providing you with the reasons why it has been suspended.
You will then be given the opportunity to provide the Commissioner with a response detailing why the licence should not be revoked.
In certain situations, the Commissioner of Police does not have to provide reasons for the suspension, or offer you a chance to prove why the licence should not be revoked. This generally occurs where the Police Commissioner receives information that you may be a risk to public safety, or that having a licence may pose a threat to the public interest.
If your firearms licence has been suspended or revoked, the law says that you must immediately surrender your firearms licence to police, along with any firearms in your possession. Alternatively, the police can seize your firearms in cases where you do not surrender them yourself.
If you fail to surrender your firearms, you could face the hefty penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine. These penalties will not apply where your licence has expired and you have applied for a new licence.
If your licence has been suspended and you wish to fight the suspension, it’s important to get an experienced lawyer on your side with a good track record of helping clients keep their firearms licence.
A good lawyer can assist you in writing to the Commissioner to show why your licence should not be revoked. A compelling letter will include all evidence as to why you should keep your licence – for example, evidence to show that you need the firearm for work, or expert evidence such as psychologist’s reports to show that you are a fit and proper person.
Surrender & Seizure of Firearms
Section 25 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) requires a firearms licence holder to immediately surrender their firearms and their firearms licence to police if their licence is suspended, revoked or otherwise is no longer in force.
The maximum penalty for failing to do so is 2 years imprisonment and/or a $5,500 fine.
The section also says that any police officer can seize any firearm from a person whose licence is suspended, revoked or no longer in force.
However, the section does not apply to expired licences if the licence continues to have effect while an application for a fresh licence is being determined.
Firearms Licence Reviews
If you feel that your firearms licence has been unfairly refused, suspended or revoked, you may request that police conduct an internal review of the decision.
You must do this within 28 days of receiving the decision.
If that review is unsuccessful, you may then seek a review by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
The NCAT has the power to review ‘discretionary refusals’ of firearms licences, and may:
- Overturn the decision by police,
- Uphold the decision by police, or
- Vary the decision by police, including any conditions imposed on a firearms licence.
The review must be lodged within 28 days of receiving the decision by police.
What types of decisions can be reviewed?
Firearms licences that are refused, suspended or revoked on ‘discretionary grounds’ (rather than mandatory grounds) can be reviewed by the NCAT.
Examples of decisions that can be reviewed include:
- The refusal or failure of the Commissioner to issue a firearms licence or permit (other than a permit for a prohibited firearm).
- The revocation of a firearms licence or permit (except where the revocation is made on the basis that you are subject to a firearms prohibition order or an apprehended violence order (AVO)).
- The refusal or failure by the Commissioner to register a firearm.
- A firearms prohibition order.
- A decision under the regulations that the person belongs to a class of prescribed decisions.
What types of decisions cannot be reviewed?
Mandatory refusals by the police cannot be reviewed by the NCAT.
- Where the Commissioner has made a decision to deny you a firearms licence on the basis of information that indicates that you could be a risk to public safety, or where issuing the licence would be contrary to the public interest.
- Where you are the subject of an apprehended violence order (AVO) or a firearms prohibition.
- Where you are under the age of 18.
Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with. Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.
Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.
Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.
Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.
We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
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We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.
The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.
We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
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For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.
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From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.
And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.
All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.
An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.
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Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
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Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.
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Team of Lawyers Behind You
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Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.
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