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Firearm Offences

What is a firearms offence?

It is an offence to have possession of a firearm unless a person holds a valid firearms licence authorising possession of that class of firearm.

A person possesses a firearm if they handle the firearm, have control of the weapon, or have it in their home or vehicle.

What are the classes of Firearms?

South Australian laws deal with five classes of firearms and prescribed firearms.

Class A, B, C, D or H firearms cover rifles and some handguns. The classification of the firearm depends on its make and model.

“Prescribed” items include automatic firearms and other military-type weapons.

What is the penalty for possessing a firearm?

Possession of any Class C, D or H firearms or prescribed firearms are major indictable offences which are often dealt with by the District Court. These offences carry a maximum penalty of:

  • 7 years’ imprisonment and/or a $35,000 fine for Class C, D or H firearms.
  • 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine for prescribed firearms.
  • 4 years’ imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine (or 2 years imprisonment and/o a $10,000 fine if the matter is dealt with by the Magistrates Court).

Can I discharge a firearm on my own property if I have a licence?

It is an offence to discharge a licensed firearm on your own property if you are:

  • acting without lawful excuse, or
  • being reckless about whether discharging the firearm may injure, annoy or frighten any other person.

What is the law for storing guns?

While holding a firearms licence you must register and store firearms in accordance with South Australian laws. It is an offence to:

  • Store registered firearms in a safe that doesn’t meet the legal requirements. The type of cabinet or safe that is required depends on the class of the item being stored.
  • Possess unregistered items.
  • Store ammunition with any firearm. It must be stored separate from any firearms in a locked container.

The Firearms Branch of the South Australia Police issues licences for firearms and ammunition. It also has the power to suspend and cancel a licence. A conviction for any offence can result in the Firearms Branch cancelling a licence.  A decision by the branch to cancel a licence may be appealed to the District Court.

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