Possessing Unauthorised Firearms


In New South Wales, it is a legislative requirement in the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) ‘the Act’ to have a licence or permit to possess or use a firearm.[1] A person can be charged with the offence of unauthorised possession or use of firearms contrary to section 7 or 7A depending on the classification of firearm. Firearms offences are considered very serious and accordingly the maximum penalty for unlawfully possessing or using a firearm is imprisonment.[2] If you have been charged with a firearm offence you should contact Brian Walker Criminal Lawyers to get expert advice or representation.


What is possession?

A firearm is defined as being in possession of a person if it is in or on any premises owned, leased or occupied by the person.


What is a firearm?

A firearm means a gun, or other weapon, that can propel a projectile by means of an explosive.


What is a pistol?

A pistol is a firearm that:

(a) is capable of being raised and fired by one hand, and

(b) dimensions do not exceed the regulations.


What is a prohibited firearm?

A prohibited firearm is any of the following kinds of pistol:

(a) a pistol with a calibre of more than .38 inch.

(b) a self-loading pistol with barrel length of less than 120 mm.

(c) a revolver with a barrel length of less than 100 mm.


What is a section 7 firearm offence?

Contrary to section 7, a person must not possess or use a pistol or prohibited firearm unless they are authorised to do so by a licence or permit.[3] Under subsection (2) a person who is the holder of a licence can be charged under this offence if they contravene a licencing condition. Licencing conditions specify the purpose of the pistol or prohibited firearm and the reason the person requires it. It is an obligation that the licensee obeys the conditions of the licence.


What do the police need to prove?

In order to convict you, police need to be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the elements of section 7. Thus, they need to show:

  1. Possession or use
  2. Prohibited pistol or firearm
  3. Contravention of licence


What penalty will I get?

The maximum penalty for an offence of section 7 is imprisonment of 14 years.[4] This is a substantive penalty that experienced lawyers at BRIAN WALKER CRIMINAL LAWYERs can help you to defend if you have been charged with a firearm offence.


How is an offence contrary to section 7A different to section 7?

Section 7A offences deal with authorised possession or use of a firearm only not pistols or prohibited firearms. An offence charged under section 7A is considered the lesser charge. In order to be convicted of authorised possession or use of a firearm the police need to show:

  1. possession or use
  2. firearm
  3. Contravention of licence

The maximum penalty associated with this offence is five years imprisonment. [5]


If I have been charged with a firearm offence, should I seek legal representation?

A firearm conviction is very serious in nature, for the best outcome you should seek legal assistance. Our team at Brian Walker Criminal Lawyers are specialised with defending substantive charges. We will use our knowledge and expertise to ensure you are strongly represented. 



[1] Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) s 9.

[2] Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) s 7.

[3] Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) s 7.

[4] Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) s 7.

[5] Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) s 7A.


About Post Author

* Information contained in this article is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as concise legal advice.
Please contact for legal advice tailored to your situation. *

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About Brian Walker

B.Acc., GradDipLegPrac, Juris Dr Barrister & Accountant. Former Criminal Defence Solicitor. Former Federal Prosecutor for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuting Commonwealth crimes relating to drugs and child exploitation. Former Australian Federal Police member litigating proceeds of crime matters. Former Australian Taxation Office employee investigating offshore tax evasion matters.

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