NSW Firearms Offences

Expert Legal Advice on Firearms Offences

Within New South Wales, the use and possession of firearms are heavily regulated under law. The team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers provide a specialist service to assist with matters relating to firearms offences. If you have been charged with a firearms offence, the team can offer expert knowledge and advice to assist in your circumstance and offer the best possible outcome.

Definition of Firearms in NSW

 As defined under section 4 of the Firearms Act 1996, a firearm is a “gun or other weapon that is capable of propelling a projectile by means of an explosive”. This encompasses a blank fire firearm, or an air gun, but does not include a paintball marker within the meaning of the Paintball Act 2018.

The Firearms Act 1996

The Firearms Act 1996 regulates the possession and use of firearms in NSW to balance the privilege of possessing legal firearms with the preservation of public safety. The legislation outlines offences and penalties for non-compliance, acting as a regulatory scheme.

What are Firearm Offences?

Firearm offences can be classified as an act that is deemed to be: 

  • A criminal offence under the relevant NSW legislation 
  • An offence which, by definition, involves the use of a firearm


Firearm offences cover a broad spectrum of possible offences, ranging from possession, licensing, use, and storage of firearms.

Prohibited Weapons in NSW

Schedule 1 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 contains an exhaustive list of prohibited weapons, including (but not limited to): 

  • Flick knives, ballistic knives and sheath knives 
  • Star knives, butterfly knives, trench knives and push daggers 
  • Bombs, grenades, rocks, missiles and anything that propels or launches a weapon 
  • Anything containing or expelling an explosive, incendiary, gas or smoke 
  • Crossbows and slingshots 
  • Spear guns less than 45cm in length 
  • Maces and flails 
  • Blow-guns, blow-pipes and darts capable of being projected from them 
  • Tasers and hand-held devices that administer electric shocks 
  • Knuckle-dusters, sap gloves and studded gloves, 
  • Pepper spray and other devices capable of discharging an irritant 
  • Body armour vests, including ‘bullet-proof’ vests 
  • Handcuffs (excluding children’s toys and those that can be released by the wearer) 
  • Laser pointers with an output greater than 1 milliwatt 
  • Portable tire deflation devices and silencers 


Under Sect. 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998, the unauthorised possession or use of a prohibited weapon carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Is it illegal to carry a Firearm in NSW?

It is illegal to carry a gun or any weapon in public in New South Wales, concealed or otherwise. This aligns with the protection of public safety within the legal system, through reducing the fear and risk of danger of the community.

What is the sentence for having a prohibited firearm?

The Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) outlines the maximum penalty for having a firearm as: 

  • 14 years imprisonment for the possession/use of a pistol or a ‘prohibited firearm’ 
  • 5 years for the possession of other firearms without a permit/ license

Weapons Licensing in NSW

S.7 and 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 states that a person must not possess or use a firearm, prohibited firearm or pistol unless that person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit.

Firearms Licence NSW

The possession or use of a firearm in NSW requires a valid firearms license or permit. In order to obtain a firearm’s license, licensees must have a “genuine reason” for it’s possession. 

A ‘firearms permit’ allows an individual to possess and use a firearm for a purpose that a “firearms license” doesn’t cover as long as it is considered a legitimate reason. 

Under the Firearms Act 1996, a person must fulfil several criteria to be granted a license, including that they must be over 18 years of age, fit and proper, successful completion of a firearms safety course and able to meet specific safety and storage requirements.

What is an unregistered firearm?

Section 36 of the Firearms Act 1996, outlines it is an offence to possess, supply, acquire or use a firearm that is not registered. 

If someone is charged with the possession or use of a firearm, Section 36 (2) of the Act outlines that the defence can argue that the accused wasn’t aware and couldn’t reasonably be expected to have been aware, that the firearm was not registered.

Are imitation firearms illegal?

According to section 4D (3) of the Firearms Act, an imitation firearm is an object that, regardless of colour, weight or composition or the presence/absence of any moveable parts, substantially duplicates the appearance of a firearm but is not a firearm. An imitation firearm does not include anything produced and identifiable as a children’s toy. 

Under the Firearms Act, it is an offence to have unauthorised possession of an imitation firearm, and can carry a maximum penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. 

A person may obtain a permit that authorises the possession of an imitation firearm for legitimate purposes. This can include film/ theatrical production, weapons training, laser game activities, collection or similar. 

Defences for Prohibited Firearms Offences

Pleading Not Guilty to Firearms Offences NSW

If you choose to plead not guilty to a firearms offence, this means that you believe to have had an appropriate licence or you feel that you had some other reason to justify the use or possession of the firearm.

Our team can advise you on various defences to the charges if they are applicable to the circumstances. Relevant defences to firearm charges include, but are not limited to; 

  • Duress- Where you were threatened or coerced in the possession/ use of the firearm
  • Necessity- The possession/use of the firearm was necessary for the prevention of serious injury or danger to yourself or others 
  • Self Defence- You possessed or used the firearm to protect either yourself, your property, or another person

Pleading Guilty to Firearms Offences NSW?

If you agree that you have committed the offence, and the police can prove the elements of the offence, you will receive the best outcome from pleading guilty, 

Pleading guilty to a Firearms Offence agrees that you engaged in the elements of the offence presented by the police. Pleading guilty at an early opportunity provides the greatest opportunity for a mitigated sentence, with the current maximum discount available for an early plea being 25%.

What does the prosecution have to prove?

As a criminal matter, the burden of proof in firearm offences bears with the prosecution. 

This means, in order for a conviction to occur, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: 

  1. The firearm was in your possession
  2. The firearm was either;
    1. Unlicensed; or, 
    2. A prohibited firearm/ pistol 
  3. That the accused, 
    1. Did not have a license to use the weapon 
    2. That the accused had a license but were using or possessing a firearm or weapon in a way that contravenes the conditions of their license 
    3. Had a firearm or weapons licence but were using the firearm or weapon for a purpose other than that established as the genuine reason for their license 

Why Choose Hamilton Janke Lawyers?

If you are facing a firearms offence, such as unregistered firearms or any prohibited weapons offences, contact an experienced criminal law team. Hamilton Janke Criminal Lawyers will get you your best result.

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