The NSC gets a lot of questions and requests for help from shooters who have had their licences suspended/ firearms seized for a range of reasons.
Many of them are for trivial matters which means the problems are mostly solvable
THIS PAGE is intended to help those of you in that situation. We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice but is intended to be a general guide to help you.
That said, our suggestion is:
Rule #1 – don’t panic
Many shooters tell us they lose sleep and worry about what this could mean to them going forward.
However, most licence or firearm problems can be fixed, especially if the reason for the problem is of a relatively minor matter that is ancient history. It may take a while to get your licence back – in fact it could be several weeks/months, but don’t despair!
Rule #2 – read the paperwork given to you
Read it twice. Or a third time.
It will state the reason for the suspension or seizure, and should tell you what rights of appeal you have.
Keep that paperwork in a safe place – you will need it.
Rule #3 – use your appeal rights
If you are told about a right of appeal, take advantage of it. Depending on where you are, you will either have a:
- Right of internal review to the relevant police force/firearms registry
- Right of appeal to a Civil and Administrative Tribunal (such as NCAT, VCAT QCAT, WA SAT etc).
There will be an application fee for this which can range from around $100 to $600. In Victoria, shooters can also appeal to the Firearms Appeals Committee before going to VCAT. Unfortunately shooters in Tasmania must go to the Magistrates Court;
Rule #4 – lodge your appeal in time
Whatever you do, make sure you lodge your appeal within the relevant time limit.
This is usually 28 days from when you receive your paperwork. If you leave it too long, you may ‘run out of time’ which means you may not be able to appeal the matter
Rule #5 – be patient with the process
The first couple of hearings will be to simply work out what the problem is and what decision needs to be made, so it may not be your chance to argue your case yet.
Be patient and answer the questions put to you. You will get your chance to be heard in time.
Even though Police have suspended your licence and seized your firearms, in most states, you will remain the legal owner of your guns until your licence is re-instated or cancelled.
This means you have the legal right to request police release your firearms to a licensed gun dealer and they are stored by the dealer until your matter is resolved.
Most dealers are happy to do this for their customers but will charge a fee per firearm, per month for storage in the meantime. Talk to your friendly dealer to organise this yourself.
The NSC strongly recommends you have your firearms stored elsewhere, as we have seen and heard of instances where seized firearms have been returned by police damaged, scratched or with parts/accessories such as scopes missing.
The other option is to legally transfer ownership of your firearms to a family member or friend not living with you, who is licensed in the interim. However this option may incur costs for transfer to the other license holder and then another transfer fee to return them to your name once your matter is resolved.
Local member of parliament
Sometimes your local member of parliament can help you with your problem.
If you don’t know who that is, just do an internet search for your suburb and the word ‘electorate’ and you might be able to find out who your MP is and how to contact them. Or ask us to help you at email@example.com
The NSC has access to its own legal counsel to help members and has an extensive network of lawyer contacts in every state / territory who are experienced in firearm licensing matters.
If you are a member of the NSC and feel a bit lost, we will at least be able to point you in the right direction. We cannot represent everyone but will do what we can to help.
If you are lawyer and would like to help NSC members with problems they have, please let us know by emailing us – click here to do that.