Laws concerning weapon usage are designed to protect the public as well as individuals by providing standards regarding the possession, storage and usage of weapons.
In QLD, the Weapons Act 1990 aims to prevent the misuse of weapons by outlining various legal regulations concerning weapons as well as potential punishments for unlawfully possessing or supplying weapons.
Here, we discuss some common questions you may have regarding what the law says about the unlawful possession of weapons in QLD.
What Items Are Defined As Weapons?
The Weapons Act 1990 provides a broad definition for what is legally considered to be a weapon, which can include items such as firearms, knives, protective vests, martial arts weapons, gases, and silencers.
The Weapons Categories Regulation 1997 (QLD) specifically lists the objects and devices which are classed as weapons and thereby subject to the Weapons Act. This legislation also places weapons into various categories, many of which require different licences in order to be lawfully possessed.
The categories outlined in Weapons Categories Regulation 1997 are:
(A) Rimfire rifles, single or double barrel shotguns, paintball guns, air rifles and powerheads (a specialised weapon for use underwater).
(B) Centre-fire rifles (other than semi-automatic); shotgun/rifle combinations.
(C) Semi-automatic or pump action shotguns (capable of holding 5 rounds or less); and semi-automatic rimfire rifles (capable of holding less than 10 rounds).
(D) Semi-automatic centre-fire rifles; semi-automatic shotguns (capable of holding more than 5 rounds); and semi-automatic rimfire rifles (capable of holding more than 10 rounds).
(E) Bullet-proof vests.
(M) Crossbows, certain knives and other handheld weapons capable of causing bodily harm.
(R) Machine guns, fully automatic large calibre military weapons.
What Does ‘Possession’ of a Weapon Mean?
The Weapons Act defines possession of any thing (including weapons) as:
(a) having the thing in one’s custody; and
(b) having the thing under one’s control in any place, whether or not another has custody of the thing; and
(c) having an ability to obtain custody of the thing at will; and
(d) 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.
If any of these criteria are fulfilled, you will be considered to have legal possession of the weapon.
What are the Penalties for Unlawful Possession of Weapons in QLD
The penalties for unlawful possession of weapons in QLD vary depending on the category of weapon and the number of weapons which a person is found to be in possession of.
While most charges regarding unlawful possession of a weapon will be heard in the Magistrates Court, if a person is charged with owning 10 or more weapons of which at least 5 are category D, E, H or R weapons, the case will be dealt with in the District Court.
The penalties for unlawful possession of weapons in QLD can be very serious, including up to 13 years imprisonment if the accused is found to unlawfully possess 10 or more weapons (where at least 5 weapons are category D, E, H or R).
To demonstrate that the accused was in unlawful possession of a firearm, the police must prove that:
- 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.
Potential legal defences against being charged with unlawful possession of weapons in QLD include arguing that the accused was not in fact in possession of the weapon, or that the item in question should not be considered a weapon under the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997.
If you are hoping to dispute a charge of unlawful possession of weapons in QLD, an experienced lawyer can advise you as to which defence is appropriate in your case.
How To Ensure Lawful Possession of a Weapon
As stated on the Queensland Government website:
“Anyone in Queensland wishing to own or use a gun, crossbow, paintball gun, and even own certain types of knife, must have a valid weapons’ licence.”
This means that in order to lawfully possess a weapon, you must acquire the relevant licence type and register the weapon with the police. There are a variety of licence types available, catering for individuals who may be farmers, target shooters, weapons dealers, firearms instructors, security guards and more.
More information about the licensing process is available at the Queensland Police website.
It is worth noting that when it comes to knives, there are instances where it is legal to own a knife and carry it in public, including:
- For fishing purposes
- For the purposes of food preparation in public
- Carrying a knife as part of a uniform (eg. Scouts)
Want to Speak to a Lawyer About Weapon Possession in QLD?
If you have been charged with unlawful possession of weapons in QLD, or are unsure about the legality of a weapon which may be in your possession, our lawyers can help.