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Firearms

Gives a brief overview of the law for people who use firearms in Victoria.

A firearm is defined as anything that is designed to fire a shot, missile or bullet by the means of compressed air or gas, or by mechanical means. It includes, antiques, replicas, air rifles and paintball guns, cannons, machine guns, grenades and tear gas devices. Even when disassembled these devices are still classed as firearms.

Firearms are categorised from A–E. Category A has less stringent licensing, and storage requirements. Category E are the most dangerous: machine guns, cannons and other high speed, long range arms.

There are strict rules about buying, selling, storing and disposing of firearms. If a firearm is lost or stolen it must be reported to police.

Paintball guns

Paintball guns have been specially classified so that people no longer need a license to participate in a game of paintball provided they are over 16 years old and supervised by someone who is licensed. A prohibited person cannot participate in paintball gaming.

See Victoria police—Paintball(opens in a new window).

Licences

People must be licensed before they may carry, use of possess a firearm in Victoria. Victoria Police has responsibility for issuing firearms licences.

People are not allowed to carry firearms for self defence. They must have a good reason for wanting to be licensed. Licences are often issued for sport, such as target shooting or hunting, or work-related reasons like controlling feral animal populations. Not all firearms can be licensed.

Children may only use firearms when they are being taught by an adult.

Some people are prohibited from having a firearms licence.

See ss. 5, 18—Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Firearms without visible serial numbers

What is a serial number?

A serial number is defined in the Act as a number that enable s the firearm to be individually identified. This number is assigned to the firearm by the manufacturer and is stamped or affixed to the firearm according to the Act.

A firearm that has either no serial number, or a number that cannot be read or has been altered or tampered with can be used as evidence to prove that the firearm is unregistered unless evidence to proved to the contrary.

See ss. 3(1), 8A—Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Storage

There are different requirements according to which category of firearm is being stored.

Firearms must be kept in a container that is made of hardwood or steel (this depends on the type of firearm). It must be locked when there are any firearms in the container. If the container weighs less than 150 kilograms it must be affixed to a wall or floor. For most dangerous types of firearms, the key must be kept on the licensed person.

If more than 15 firearms are stored in an area, the venue must have an alarm system that is properly maintained.

Cartridges and bullets must be stored separately.

The storage may be inspected from time to time to make sure that the holder is complying with the requirements.

See part 6—Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)

  • s. 3—defines the different categories of firearms
  • s. 5—offence for a prohibited person to carry a firearm
  • s. 18—issue of junior licences
  • Part 6—Storage
  • Schedule 4—sets out the storage requirements

See Firearms Act 1996 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)

  • s. 3defines an imitation firearm

See Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Victoria police

The Victoria police website has information to help with identification, registration and classification of firearms.

See Victoria Police—Applying for a new licence(opens in a new window).

Updated