Sunday, 1 May 2016

The International Guide to Australian Gun Laws

When using social media, especially periscope, I'm often asked about gun laws here in Australia. Its hard to answer all the questions without getting into the finer details that reveal the multiple levels of red tape implemented by government in an attempt to discourage ordinary Australians from participating in the shooting sports and its associated lifestyle. I hope by referring you to this post, you will understand the nightmare that is the gun control experiment in Australia.


Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding Australia's ridiculously restrictive gun laws.


"Is there a second amendment similar to that in the USA?"

In Australia, we don't have rights to firearms ownership enshrined in our constitution.

"Can you own them?" "I thought guns were illegal in Australia"

Yes, Australians are allowed to own firearms, however you must meet certain criteria (genuine reason) before you are allowed a license. The genuine reasons are:
  • Hunting
  • Sports & target shooting (proof of club membership required)
  • Primary producers (farmers etc)
  • Professional pest controllers
  • Security guards
  • Firearms safety/training instructors
  • Gunsmiths/Armourers/Firearms dealers
  • Collectors
Note that self defence and defence of the home/family is not a genuine reason to own firearms.

Do Australians have to register their firearms?

Yes, all firearms must be registered even though it has been proven that there is no public safety benefit.

"Do you need a license?" & "What are the prerequisites for obtaining a license?"

Yes, a license is required to own firearms in Australia. In order to be able to obtain a license for long arms, an applicant must:
  • Complete a firearms safety training course (usually one day in length at a cost of around $130)
  • Provide a genuine reason from the above list
  • Provide adequate identification documents
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Pay the application fee and yearly license fees ($250 for 5 years)

"What about Handguns, are there extra requirements to own them?"

Yes. Handguns are highly regulated in Australia.  To obtain an handgun license (non occupational), you must:
  • Be a member of an approved shooting club for a minimum of 6 months
  • Have competed a handgun safety course
  • Participated in a minimum of 3 handgun competitions
  • Pay the application fee and yearly license fees ($265 for 5 years)

Restrictions on what you can and cant do with your handguns:

You can: 
  • Use your handguns at an approved shooting range 
You cant:
  • Use your handguns on private property
  • Use your handguns for the purpose of hunting
  • Carry guns on your person for the purpose of self defence

Lets now discuss how bad the system is here in Australia

License Issues

So lets say you already have a license for rifles.  If you then obtain a handgun license, you will receive a totally separate license, they aren't even printed on the same card. You have to pay the fees all over again for each additional license.  For example, I have 3 firearms licenses.  I have a rifle license, a handgun license and an firearms instructors license. These are on three separate cards that I carry in my wallet with 3 separate fees payable. I have a 9mm handgun registered to my sports and target license, but I am not allowed to use that same gun on my instructors license.  I have to purchase an additional gun to use just for instruction!

Types of firearms allowed on a rifle license (Sports & Target, Hunting)

Most Australians are only eligible for the target shooting and hunting licenses.  There are 2 categories of firearms allowed for use, those being A & B.

Category A
  •  Single shot rimfires, repeating rimfire (bolt action, lever action, pump action, straight pull & revolving)
  • Shotguns (single shot, double barrel & lever action)
 Category B
  • Single shot centrefire, repeating centrefire (bolt action, lever action, pump action, straight pull & revolving)*
  • Black powder rifles

*Note: Magazine capacity restrictions apply for rifles with detachable magazines, 10 rounds maximum.

Types of firearms allowed with a handgun license & associated restrictions

All handguns for sport and target competition have minimum barrel length and magazine capacity restrictions. Revolvers must have barrels at least 4" in length, 5" for semi-automatics. Possession of magazines greater than 10 rounds is a criminal offence.
  •  Rimfire (single shot, semi-automatic & revolvers)
  • Centrefire up to .38 calibre (single shot, semi-automatic & revolvers)
  • Black powder 
Sports and target competitors who wish to own handguns that are over .38 cal to a maximum of .45 cal must participate in either handgun metallic silhouette or single action cowboy competitions.

Now, to the part that really stinks.  If we wish to retain ownership of our handguns, we must participate in a minimum number of handgun competitions each year. I have a 9mm and a .45acp so I must shoot a minimum of 4 per calibre category.  If I only had one calibre category, I would be required to shoot 6 competitions.  If a licensee fails to comply, the police have the power to revoke the license and force the sale or surrender of the handguns.


Lets now explore the restricted firearms categories

The below firearm categories are deemed to be "too dangerous" for a licensed law abiding individual to own. 

Category C
  • Pump action/semi-automatic shotguns with a capacity of up to 5 rounds
  • Semi-automatic rimfire rifles with a capacity of up to 10 rounds
Category D
  • Pump action/semi-automatic shotguns with a capacity of more than 5 rounds
  • Semi-automatic rimfire rifles with a capacity of more than 10 rounds
  • Semi-automatic centrefire rifles
Category C is generally reserved for the purpose of primary production (farming), professional pest controllers, security guards and instructors.
Category D is reserved for primary production (when it can be proven there is a need for that particular firearm type), professional pest controllers and instructors.

Note: Someone who is eligible for a category C & D license goes through the exact same background check as any other license holder.


 Additional Requirements


Purchasing Firearms

If you wish to purchase a firearm, you must apply to the police for permission. You must provide details of the gun you are purchasing and pay yet another fee of $38 for the privilege. If the police approve your purchase, they will issue you with a "Permit to Acquire". Only after receiving this permit are you allowed to collect your purchase from the dealer or individual. All individual to individual sales must be brokered via a licensed dealer.


Storage of Firearms 

All firearms must be unloaded and kept in a locked safe with the bolts removed or the action broken where possible.  Ammunition must be kept in a separate locked container away from the firearms.  

Police Inspection of Firearms

The police reserve the right to inspect firearms and safes without a warrant of any kind.  Generally this means a marked police car in your driveway which then causes alarm with the residents of your street.


Australian gun laws are overly repressive, cost the taxpayers millions and divert police resources away from real policing duties. There is no measurable effect on public safety. Some will say that the laws have stopped mass shootings. It is true that we have had no mass shootings in Australia for the last 19 years, however in New Zealand, they still allow their citizens access to semi-automatic rifles and there has not been a mass shooting in the same time period.  It is interesting to note that Australia and New Zealand share nearly identical cultural values.

For those of you who live in the USA, please take note.

When your politicians speak of gun law reform like Australia's, they mean registration and confiscation. It has nothing to do with public safety. The only effect in safety will be the reduction in safety for you, the law abiding citizens. Don't jeopardize your family's safety.  Be proactive and support organizations like the NRA

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