Australia has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. There are various state and federal regulations that must be satisfied before you can legally purchase or own a firearm. These include a 28-day waiting period, rigorous background checks, completing a firearm safety course, providing evidence of safe gun storage, proving a genuine need for a firearm and more. Even once these hurdles have been cleared, a firearm licence will still specify what type of firearms you can own, how many, and how much ammunition you can buy in a given period.
Just like acquiring a firearm, there are detailed rules about disposing of a firearm. Properly disposing of firearms is an essential part of keeping unregistered firearms out of circulation and preventing unlicensed users from acquiring firearms without going through the proper checks and licensing procedures.
There are a number of legitimate reasons to dispose of a firearm. Since Australian firearm licences must be regularly updated, if your licence has lapsed and you are unable or unwilling to renew it, you must safely and legally dispose of your firearm. Similarly, if you inherit, find or otherwise come into possession of a firearm that you are unlicensed to possess, must dispose of. But the most common reason is simply selling a firearm.
There are a few options available for legally disposing of a firearm. Regulations will differ by state and territory. The following guidelines are applicable to Victoria.
Sell or transfer to an Australian licence holder
You can dispose of a firearm by selling or transferring it to another Australian licence holder. You can only sell or transfer to someone over the age of 18. If they don’t already have a firearm licence, then they will have to go through the licence application process before they can acquire the gun. Whether you are selling or transferring the firearm, it must be done through a licensed firearm dealer.
The person buying or receiving ownership must apply for a permit to acquire the particular firearm. Once you have the permit, it must be signed by both parties.
The seller must then attend the licensed firearm dealer in person with the firearm, the registration papers, the permit to acquire and current firearm licence. The dealer can then transfer ownership and issue the formal notification to the Victoria Police. The transfer is only official once Victoria Police has acknowledged the formal notification from the firearm dealer.
The person selling or transferring the firearm must then send a copy of the transaction receipt to the Victoria Police Licensing and Regulation Division.
If you are gifting or giving away the firearm or simply transferring legal ownership to another person, the same process must be followed.
While you can sell guns online in Australia, the formal transfer and postage must be handled by a licensed firearms dealer.
Sell to a licensed firearm dealer
If you don’t have a private seller lined up, you can sell directly to a licensed firearm dealer. Firearm dealers are subject to strict licence conditions, including reporting and record keeping requirements, as well as proper standards of storage, acquisition and disposal of firearms.
It’s important to note that there are different categories of dealer, with each category subject to regulations about the type of firearms they are allowed to sell and repair.
When disposing of a firearm with a dealer, they must properly record and document the transaction, provide you with a receipt and notify Licensing and Regulation Division of the transaction within 28 days.
Sell or transfer to a person overseas
It is possible to sell or transfer ownership of a firearm to a person overseas. This still needs to be done through a licensed Australian firearm dealer. You will also need to apply to the Australian Border Force and may need to submit a range of information, regarding the firearm, the seller and the buyer, to Australian Customs. The Licensing and Regulation Division will still need to be notified when disposing of a firearm in this way.
Unconditional surrender of the firearm
If you’ve found a firearm, want to have one legally destroyed or simply want to dispose of it without the paperwork involved in selling or transferring ownership, you can unconditionally surrender the firearm to Victoria Police.
To do this, you need to first contact your nearest police station to arrange a time to bring in the firearm. Make sure you properly store the firearm in an appropriate carry case or bag while transporting it so as not to cause alarm.
The police will provide you with a property-book receipt for the firearm. A copy of this receipt must be sent to the Licensing and Regulation Division together with written confirmation that you disposed of your gun with the police.
The police will pass the gun on to the police forensic team for destruction. The forensic team will then inform the Licensing and Regulation Division when the firearm has been destroyed.
Disposing of ammunition
Like firearms, ammunition must also be properly disposed of. You can dispose of ammunition at your local police station, through a licensed firearm dealer or with a licensed individual. You should never try to destroy ammunition on your own. When transporting ammunition, it’s important to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that it isn’t a safety risk and that it won’t be lost or stolen.
Australia’s firearm laws may be tough, but they are there to protect the general public from harm. It’s important that all aspects of the law are followed whether buying, selling or disposing of a firearm in Australia.