An article by Anna Vidot and Nick Lowther on the ABC website 14 September 2016, reports that state police ministers have reached an ‘in-principle’ agreement on the surrendering of  Illegal firearms so that you are not charged with firearms offences.

This amnesty will not include a buyback of illicit guns as occurred in 1996 but owners would be given the chance to surrender their guns without penalty.   Further details are to be released after the next meeting of state police ministers.

A further development is the consideration of legislation by the Government to increase the maximum sentence for convicted gun smugglers to twenty years with a mandatory five-year minimum sentence.

South Australian Firearms Act

Current South Australian firearms offences attract serious penalties. The Firearms Act 1977 (SA) provides the Registrar with wide powers to administers the act.  Also Police have broad powers to enter, search and seize firearms without a warrant as described in Section 32 of this Act.

Serious Firearms Offences

A serious firearms offender  is described under Section 20AA of the Criminal Law Sentencing Act 1935 and can attract serious penalties within South Australia.  Serious Firearms Offences as described in this act include:

  • the possession of firearms while on bail, a bond, home detention or on parole;
  • committing an offence involving the carriage or possession of a pistol, automatic firearm, unregistered firearm, a firearm for which you are unlicensed or possessing a prescribed firearm.

Bail will not be granted to a person charged with a Serious Firearms Offence without special circumstances to justify release.

Imitation Firearms

Imitation firearms that closely resemble a firearm classified as A, B, C, D and H as defined in Section 5 of the Firearms Act are treated the same as the actual firearm.

Prescribed Firearms Offences

Some firearms are defined as Prescribed Firearms under the Firearms Act 1977. Possession of a prescribed firearm is a major offence which attracts a significant penalty.  See Penalties

A list of Prescribed Firearms can be found in Firearm Offences Regulation 4.

Other Offences under the Firearms Act (SA) 1977

Other firearm offences under the Firearms Act (SA) 1997 include:

Possession and Use of Firearms - see Section 11

  • A person who has possession of a firearm without holding a firearms licence authorising possession of that firearm is guilty of an offence.
  • A person who has possession of a firearm, or who uses a firearm, for a purpose that is not authorised by a firearms licence held by that person is guilty of an offence.

Failure to carry firearm licence when carrying firearm  - see Section 29C

Trafficking in firearms - see Section 14

Breach of Conditions of Firearms Licence – see Section 21

Possession and an unregistered firearm - see Section 23 (1)

Offences in relation to security firearms  - see Regulation 38

Offences in relation to storage of ammunition – see Regulation 41.

Penalties for Firearms Offences

Penalties for firearms offences can include convictions, fines and imprisonment with the maximum in relation to serious criminal firearm offences being in the order of 15 years imprisonment and/or $75,000 fine.  A full list of penalties can be found the SA Government website here. 

Our team is experienced in dealing with all firearms offences including those that are serious criminal offences.  We also have the benefit of understanding the police powers in investigating and prosecuting these offences at the ground level.  We know that timely legal advice can make a big difference in how your matter proceeds through the legal system and our experienced Barristers will put you in the best position possible in the event of a trial.

If you have been charged with a firearm offence it is important to get legal advice from a criminal lawyer immediately.

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