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Possession Of Weapons - QLD

Why are there laws around weapon use in Queensland?

Queensland has laws around weapon use to ensure that public and individual safety is improved by imposing strict controls on the possession of weapons and requiring the safe and secure storage and carriage of weapons.

The object of the Weapons Act is to prevent the misuse of weapons.  This is achieved by:-

  • prohibiting the possession and use of all automatic and self-loading rifles and automatic and self-loading shotguns except in special circumstances; and
  • establishing an integrated licensing and registration scheme for firearms; and
  • requiring each person who wishes to possess a firearm under a licence to demonstrate a genuine reason for possessing the firearm; and
  • providing strict requirements that must be satisfied for-
    • licences authorising possession of firearms; and
    • the acquisition and sale of firearms; and
  • ensuring that firearms are stored and carried in a safe and secure way.

What the law says about unlawful possession of weapons

The Weapons Act states that it is an offence in Queensland for someone to unlawfully possess a weapon.

A weapon means:-

  • (a) A firearm: or
  • (b) another thing prescribed under a regulation to be a weapon or within a category of weapon; or
  • (c) a thing that would be a weapon mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), if it were not temporarily inoperable.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused ‘possessed’ a weapon;
  • That weapon is one that is defined under the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997;
  • The accused was not authorised by a licence to possess that weapon.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

What does ‘possession’ mean?

‘Possession’ under the Weapons Act includes:

  • having the weapon in one’s custody; and
  • having the weapon under one’s control in any place, whether or not another has custody of the thing; and
  • having an ability to obtain custody of the weapon at will; and
  • having a claim to custody of the thing which the claimant has committed to the custody of another, notwithstanding that the thing is temporarily not in the control of the person having such claim.

Categories of Weapons

Weapons are classified into a number of different categories, which are outlined and listed in the Weapons Categories Regulation.  The category of weapon is one consideration that a Court will take into account when sentencing a person for unlawful possession of a weapon.

The categories are:-

Category A Weapons

Each of the following is a category A weapon if it has not been rendered permanently inoperable:

  • a miniature cannon under 120cm in barrel length that is a black powder and muzzle loading cannon, depicting a scale model of an historical artillery piece or naval gun;
  • an air rifle;
  • a blank-fire firearm at least 75 cm in length;
  • a rim-fire rifle (other than a self-loading rim-fire rifle);
  • a shotgun other than a pump action shotgun or self-loading shotgun;
  • a powerhead;
  • a break action shotgun and rim-rifle rifle combination.

Category B Weapons

 

Each of the following is a category B weapon if it has not been rendered permanently inoperable:

  • a muzzle-loading firearm;
  • a single shot centre-fire rifle;
  • a double barrel centre-fire rifle;
  • a repeating centre-fire rifle;
  • a break action shotgun and centre-file rifle combination.

Category C Weapons

 

Each of the following is a category C weapon if it has not been rendered permanently inoperable:

  • a semiautomatic rim-rifle with a magazine capacity no greater than 10 rounds;
  • a semiautomatic shotgun with a magazine capacity no greater than 5 rounds;
  • a pump action shotgun with a magazine capacity no greater than 5 rounds.

Category D Weapons

 

Each of the following is a category D weapon (regardless of whether it has been rendered permanently inoperable):

  • A self-loading centre-fire rifle designed or adapted for military purposes or a firearm that substantially duplicates a rifle of that type in design, function or appearance;
  • A non-military style self-loading centre-fire rifle with either an integral or detachable magazine;
  • A self- loading shotgun with either an integral or detachable magazine with a capacity of more than 5 rounds and a pump action shotgun with a capacity of more than 5 rounds;
  • A self-loading rim-fire rifle with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Category E Weapons

A bulletproof vest or protective body vest or body armour designed to prevent the penetration of small arms projectiles is a category E weapon.

Category H Weapons

 
 

A firearm, including an air pistol and a blank-fire firearm, under 75cm in length, other than a powerhead, is a category H weapon, regardless of whether it has been rendered permanently inoperable. For example:

  • an air pistol;
  • a centre-fire pistol with a calibre of not more than .38 inches or a black powder pistol;
  • a centre fire pistol with a calibre of more than .38 inch but not more than .45 inch;
  • a rim fire pistol.

Category M Weapons

 
 

Each of the following is a category M weapon:

  • any clothing, apparel, adornment, accessory or other thing:
    • designed to disguise any weapon or other cutting or piercing instrument capable of causing bodily harm;
    • designed for use as a weapon or a cutting or piercing instrument capable of causing bodily harm.
  • any knife so designed or constructed so as to be used as a weapon that while the knife is held in 1 hand, the blade may be released by that hand;
  • a ballistic knife that propels or releases a knife-like blade of any material by any means other than an explosive;
  • a butterfly knife, a knife known as a ‘balisong’, a pantographic knife, or a similar device that consists of a single-edged or multi-edged blade or spike that fits within 2 handles attached to the blade or spike by transverse pivot pins or pantographic linkage and is capable of being opened by gravity or centrifugal force;
  • a flick knife, or a similar device of any material that has a blade folded or recessed into the handle that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or if pressure is applied to a button, spring or device in or attached to the handle of the device;
  • a push knife, or a similar device designed as a weapon that consists of a single-edged or multi-edged blade or spike and allows the blade or spike to be supported by the palm of the hand so that stabbing blows or slashes can be inflicted by a punching or pushing action;
  • a sheath knife, or a similar device of any material that has a sheath which withdraws into its handle by gravity or centrifugal force or if pressure is applied to a button, spring or device attached to or forming part of the sheath, handle or blade of the device;
  • a star knife, or a similar device that consists of at least 2 angular points, blades or spikes, of any material, disposed outwardly about a central axis point and that are designed to spin around the central axis point in flight when thrown at a target;
  • a trench knife, or a similar device that consists of a single-edged or multi-edged blade or spike of any material that is fitted with a handle made of any hard substance that is designed to be fitted over the knuckles of the hand of the user to protect the knuckles and increase the effect of a punch or blow;
  •  a riding crop that contains, conceals or disguises a knife, stiletto or any other single-edged or multi-edged blade or spike of any length or of any material;
  • a walking stick or cane that contains, conceals or disguises a sword or any other single-edged or multi-edged blade, knife or spike of any length or of any material;
  • any incendiary or inflammable device containing any substance capable of causing bodily harm or damage to property that is primarily designed for vegetation management;
  • any pistol crossbow designed to be discharged by the use of 1 hand (that is not a toy pistol crossbow) that when discharged is capable of causing damage or injury to property or capable of causing bodily harm;
  • any crossbow designed to be discharged by the use of 2 hands that, when discharged, is capable of causing damage or injury to property or capable of causing bodily harm;
  • a Chinese throwing iron that is a hard non-flexible plate having 3 or more radiating points with 1 or more sharp edges in the shape of a polygon, trefoil, cross, star, diamond or geometric shape and constructed or designed to be thrown as a weapon;
  • a flail or similar device constructed and designed as a weapon consisting of in part a striking head and which, if used offensively against a person, is capable of causing bodily harm;
  • a device known as a ‘manrikiguisari’ or ‘kusari’, consisting of a length of rope, cord, wire or chain fastened at each end to a geometrically shaped weight or handgrip and constructed or designed for use as a weapon;
  • a device known as a knuckleduster or any device made or adapted for use as a knuckleduster and which, if used offensively against a person, is capable of causing bodily harm;
  • a weighted glove designed or constructed to be used as a weapon;
  • a mace or any similar article (other than a ceremonial mace made for and used solely as a symbol of authority on ceremonial occasions);
  • any device, not a toy, constructed or designed as a telescopic baton, the extension of which is actuated by the operation of a mechanical trigger.

Category R Weapons

 
 

Each of the following is a category R weapon:

  • a machine gun or submachine gun that is fully automatic in its operation and actuated by energy developed when it is being fired or has multiple revolving barrels, and any replica or facsimile of a machine gun that is not a toy;
  • a unit or device that is capable of being used for converting any firearm to a weapon mentioned in paragraph (a);
  • a firearm capable of firing 50 calibre BMG cartridge ammunition;
  • an antipersonnel gas, and an antipersonnel substance, of a corrosive, noxious or irritant nature or that is capable of causing bodily harm, and any weapon capable of discharging the gas or substance by any means, other than a gas or substance and any weapon capable of discharging the gas or substance that is primarily designed for the control of native or feral animals;
  • an acoustical antipersonnel device of an intensity that is capable of causing bodily harm;
  • an electrical antipersonnel device of an intensity that is capable of causing bodily harm;
  • a hand grenade, other than an inert hand grenade, and an antipersonnel mine;
  • a silencer or other device or contrivance made or used, or capable of being used or intended to be used, for reducing the sound caused by discharging a firearm;
  • a rocket launcher, recoilless rifle, antitank rifle, a bazooka or a rocket propelled grenade type launcher;
  • a mortar, all artillery and any incendiary or inflammable device containing any substance capable of causing bodily harm or damage to property, other than an incendiary or inflammable device primarily designed for vegetation management.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for unlawfully possessing a weapon varies depending on the amount of weapons a person is found in possession of and the type (i.e. category) or the weapon.

Offence

Maximum Penalty

(a) If the person unlawfully possesses 10 or more weapons at least 5 of which are Category D, E, H, or R weapons

13 years imprisonment

(b) if paragraph (a) does not apply and the person unlawfully possesses 10 or more weapons

500 penalty units or 10 years imprisonment

 

(c) if paragraphs (a) an (b) do not apply, for a category D, H, or R weapon

300 penalty units or 7 years imprisonment

 

(c) if paragraphs (a) an (b) do not apply, for a category C or E weapon

200 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment

 

(c) if paragraphs (a) an (b) do not apply, for a category A, B, M weapon

100 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

A court, in sentencing a person found guilty of unlawfully possessing a weapon, may take into consideration whether the person stored the weapon in the way prescribed under a regulation for the weapon.

If I am charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon, which court will my matter be in?

If a person is charged with unlawfully possessing 10 or more weapons at least 5 of which are Category D, E, H, or R weapons, the matter can only be dealt with in the District Court.

All other unlawful possession of weapon charges can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

What are some defences for the offence of unlawful possession of a weapon?

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to:-

  • The accused was not in possession of the weapon;
  • The accused did not have a weapon as defined under the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997;
  • Identification i.e. not the accused.

You should contact us about what defences may be open to you if you are charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon.

Do I need a lawyer if I am charged with possession of a dangerous drug?

A conviction for unlawful possession of a weapon is a serious matter that can have a major impact on your life and future.  We strongly recommend that you talk to one of our criminal lawyers, who can assist you by:-

  • Advising on your prospects of contesting a charge;
  • Guiding you through the court process;
  • Negotiating with the prosecution;
  • Suggesting ways to reduce penalty and the impact on your future;
  • Reducing some of your stress by answering the difficult questions; and
  • Appearing for you in court.
 

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