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Weapons and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012

On 30 April 2012, Premier Campbell Newman announced the Government’s intention to introduce mandatory minimum penalties for weapons offences in an effort to address the unlawful use of firearms. That announcement was made in the context of growing concern about criminal activity involving the use of firearms both in Queensland and nationally.

The Weapons and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 amends the Weapons Act 1990 (the Act), the Corrective Services Act 2006 (CSA) and the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (PSA) to impose mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment where the offences of unlawful possession (s50), unlawful supply (s50B) and unlawful trafficking (s65) of firearms are committed in certain circumstances. The mandatory sentencing provisions will commence on 1 February 2013.

The Amendment Act also gives effect to the Government’s commitment to reduce red tape and the regulatory burden associated with time consuming and non-essential rules, forms, regulations and procedures.  This will reduce the regulatory burden associated with legitimate firearms ownership. 

Eighteen initiatives were identified through a review of the Act and subordinate legislation and have been included in the Amendment Act or addressed through policy and subordinate legislation. 


Initiatives included in the Weapons and other legislation Amendment Act 2012

  1. Imposes mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment where the offences of unlawful possession (s50), unlawful supply (s50B) and unlawful trafficking (s65) of firearms are committed in certain circumstances
  2. Extends the term of category A and B licenses from five years to a term of not more than 10 years
  3. Removes the obligation for an approved pistol club to provide an annual participation report to an authorised officer
  4. Extends the reporting time for a licensed dealer to give an annual return to an authorised officer
  5. Extends the reporting time for a theatrical ordnance supplier to give an annual return to an authorised officer
  6. Allows a shooting club representative to delegate functions
  7. Extends the term of a Permit to Acquire from three months to six months
  8. Allows a licensee to report a change in circumstances in a method approved by the authorised officer
  9. Recognises an interstate or international firearms licence as adequate knowledge of a weapon for the purposes of obtaining a Queensland Weapons Licence; and
  10. Extends the timeframes under which a licensee with an expired Weapons Licence is required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of the weapon from six months to 12 months.

Initiatives covered under Policy and Subordinate Legislation

  1. Allowing the registration of two category D weapons on a single licence
  2. Clarification of a licensee’s obligation in terms of when to remove the bolt from a weapon
  3. Delegating an approved weapons club representative’s functions
  4. Removing the onus to demonstrate a need for a break action shotgun and rim-fire rifle combination
  5. Improving policing practices in regions with respect to new licence applications
  6. Extending the photographic identification to ten years
  7. Changes to the licence renewal application to provide for the confirmation of licensee’s particulars and circumstances
  8. Allowing a Permit to Acquire application to be lodged with a new Weapons Licence application; and
  9. Extend the renewal period for category D licences for up to five years.


Act Amendments explained

Information provided from the Weapons and other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 explanatory notes.

Imposes mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment where the offences of unlawful possession (s 50), unlawful supply (s 50B) and unlawful trafficking (s 65) of firearms are committed in certain circumstances (effective as at 1 February 2013)

The possession and use of firearms by persons engaged in criminal activity poses a risk to community safety.  The Amendment Act addresses that risk by ensuring that the penalties imposed meet community expectations and provide adequate deterrence against such conduct.

The mandatory penalties imposed will apply to adults who unlawfully:

  • carry on the business of trafficking in weapons without a reasonable excuse, where at least one of the weapons is a firearm
  • supply weapons without a reasonable excuse, where at least one of the weapons is a short firearm
  • possess a firearm where the firearm is used in the commission of an indictable offence
  • possess a firearm where the possession of the firearm is for the purpose of committing or facilitating an indictable offence; and/or
  • possess a short firearm in a public place without a reasonable excuse.

Furthermore, where a person is convicted of an offence in circumstances attracting a mandatory period of imprisonment, any date for parole release or eligibility that is imposed under the PSA and any parole eligibility date under the CSA does not fall before the expiry of the applicable mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.

The Act is also amended to ensure that both unlicensed persons in possession of firearms and licensed persons in possession of unregistered firearms may be afforded protection against prosecution when surrendering weapons in compliance with an amnesty declared under s168B of the Act.  The Amendment Act is not intended to erode the rights of licensed firearms owners or people otherwise authorised to use firearms under the Act. 

Extends the term of Category A and B licences from five years to a term of not more than 10 years for applications lodged on or after 1 July 2013(effective as at 1 July 2013)

Section 20 of the Act will be amended to double the current term of a firearms licence for a category A and a category B firearm from five years up to 10 years.  The term of five years originates from the (then) Australian Police Ministers Council (APMC) Special Firearms meeting held on 10 May 1996. Resolution 4 (Basic licence requirements) prescribed that a firearms licence be issued for a period of no more than five years.

Extending the term of category A and B licences from five years to a period of up to 10 years is expected to result in processing efficiencies and financial benefits to licensees.

To safeguard against the prolonged possession of category A and B firearms, the Queensland Police Service has introduced a number of policing practice initiatives such as real time probity through QPRIME, assessment of licensees upon application for a Permit to Acquire and state-wide random auditing of weapons storage facilities.

Remove the obligation for an approved pistol club to provide an annual report (effective as at 11 December 2012)

Section 140 of the Act is amended to remove the requirement for pistol clubs to provide an annual participation report to the authorised officer before 31 August of each year.  The current requirement under s140 is difficult and time consuming particularly where a club has extensive membership.

The legislative requirement to provide an annual report to the authorised officer has been removed.  This requirement will be replaced with random and targeted auditing by Weapons Licensing. 

This amendment maintains the licensee’s obligation to keep individual participation reports under s135 of the Act, and to provide that information annually to each pistol club of which the person is a member.

Extend the reporting time for licensed Dealers to provide an annual return (effective as at 11 December 2012) 

Section 72 is amended to allow a licensed Dealer to give the authorised officer an annual return of all weapons held in stock no later than two months after the anniversary date of the licence.  Currently the Act requires an annual return to be given to the authorised officer before 31 July each year.

Where a licensed Dealer cannot meet these timeframes, the licensed Dealer is allowed to apply to the authorised officer for an alternative date for that year.

Extend the reporting time for Theatrical Ordnance Suppliers to provide an annual return (effective as at 11 December 2012)

In a manner similar to licensed Dealers, s121 is amended to allow a Theatrical Ordnance Supplier to give the authorised officer an annual return of all weapons held in stock no later than two months after the anniversary date of the licence.  Currently the Act requires an annual return to be given to the authorised officer before 31 July each year.

Where a Theatrical Ordnance Supplier cannot meet these timeframes, the Theatrical Ordnance Supplier is allowed to apply to the authorised officer for an alternative date for that year.

Club representative to delegate functions (Effective 8 April 2013)

Section 90 of the Act and s70G of the Regulation require that an application for a Shooting Club permit under the Act or Weapon Club permit under the Regulation must nominate an adult to be the Shooting Club’s representative. The person nominated by the Shooting Club to be the Club’s representative is responsible for the conduct of the activities of the Club and is obligated to exercise all reasonable diligence to ensure the Club complies with the Act. Given that some Shooting Clubs have an extensive membership, the impost of this obligation on a single person is significant. 

To reduce the impost on a club’s representative, the Amendment Act introduces a power of delegation.  The delegation under s18D will apply to declarations required for new licence and licence renewal applications for pistol club genuine reasons in circumstances where the function is delegated to a member of the Club’s governing body or board.

An authorised officer will have the capacity to revoke a delegation if the authorised officer reasonably suspects the person to whom the delegation has been made is no longer an appropriate person to exercise that function. 

The authorised officer revoking the delegation must do so by written notice.  A person aggrieved by a decision of the authorised officer to revoke a delegation may review that decision through QCAT.  A revocation by the authorised officer does not affect the validity of a licence that was issued or renewed before the delegation was revoked.

Extend the term of a Permit to Acquire to six months for applications lodged on or after 1 July 2013 (effective as at 1 July 2013)

Section 45 is amended to extend the term of a PTA application from three months to six months.  This amendment recognises that circumstances arise where the transaction of acquiring the weapon cannot be completed within the three month period. Irrespective of the reasons for the delay in acquiring the weapon, current legislation prevents the authorised officer from extending the PTA past three months.

Extending the term of a PTA to six months will address delays associated with the importation of weapons, remote locations, unavailability of particular weapons, employment obligations or loss of a PTA.

Reporting a change in circumstances to the authorised officer (effective as at 1 February 2013)

Section 24(1) of the Act requires a licensee to advise the officer in charge of police of any changes in the licensee’s circumstance. The licensee must also deliver the licence to the officer in charge of police when advising of the changes.

It is recognised that some of the changes to a licensee’s circumstances may still necessitate the delivery of the licence to the officer in charge of police, for example, where the person’s licence has been suspended, revoked or cancelled. However, other changes such as changes to an address could be more efficiently notified by the use of electronic media forwarded directly to WL.

Accordingly s24 is amended, removing the obligation on licensees to automatically deliver their firearms licence to the officer in charge of police when a change in circumstance occurs.  The licensee will instead have a range of options available prescribed by Regulation.

From 17 October 2012 licence holders now have the option to use the new web based Change in Circumstance Form to advise of their change in circumstances relating to a change of address.

Recognising an interstate and international licence as adequate knowledge of weapons safety (effective as at 11 December 2012)

Currently, s10A of the Act sets out the criteria to be used when deciding whether a person has an adequate knowledge of firearm safety for the purposes of determining a new licence application.

A minor technical amendment made in 2011 to s10A imposes an unintended obligation on interstate and international licence holders to complete an approved safety course before licensing can occur in Queensland.

This is remedied by allowing an interstate or international weapons licence to be used as a criterion in deciding whether an applicant has an adequate knowledge of a firearm.

Extend the term under which a licensee with an expired licence is required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of weapons safety  (effective as at 11 December 2012) 

The Act is amended to address an inconsistency in s10A which fails to recognise an application for renewal of a licence in the same way as an application for a new licence. Currently, an applicant for a new firearms licence must undertake an appropriate safety training course within 12 months of making an application for a firearms licence.

In comparison, an experienced firearms licensee must undertake a safety training course if an application for renewal of a licence occurs six months after the licence has expired.  This inconsistency unnecessarily disadvantages licensees who may have a valid reason for failing to make a licence application within the six month time frame.

The Amendment Act doubles the time frame available to a person with an expired licence from six months to 12 months, consistent with new licence applications.


Policy and Subordinate Legislation Amendments explained

Allowing the registration of two Category D weapons on a single licence (effective 29 October 2012)

The regulation amendment will enable a person whose licence authorises them to possess a category D firearm, to have up to two category D firearms endorsed on their licence, where a reasonable need exists.

The amendment benefits occupational shooters and primary producers required to cull feral animals in the course of their employment.

Clarification of a licensee’s obligation in terms of when to remove the bolt from a weapon (effective 29 October 2012)  

The Regulation clarifies requirements for the lawful carriage of firearms when moving across paddocks divided by a road. The amendment to the Regulation specifies that the storage requirements imposed by s60A(2) of the Regulation, including the requirement to remove the bolt of a weapon, do not apply in such circumstances.

Delegating an approved Historical Society’s representative’s functions (Effective 8 April 2013)

Presently only the nominated Historical Society’s representative can sign a declaration that an applicant for a licence holds current club membership. This creates administrative problems for the society, when the representative is unavailable. The amendment will extend delegate responsibilities to members of the Historical Society's governing body.

Removing the onus to demonstrate a need for a break action shotgun and rim-fire rifle combination (Effective 8 April 2013)

Currently the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997 (Categories Regulation) classifies all combination rifles as category B weapons. Although combination rifles are available in rim-fire and centre-fire, the Categories Regulation does not distinguish between these two types of combination rifles.

In accordance with s40 (2) of the Act, a person seeking to obtain a Permit to Acquire for a break action shotgun and rim-fire combination must demonstrate why they need the weapon and why that need cannot be satisfied in another way. This is despite the fact that no such requirement is imposed with respect to the acquisition of a rim-fire rifle or break action shotgun on its own as the individual firearms are category A weapons.

The amendment distinguishes between centre-fire and rim-fire combination rifles by categorising rim-fire and break action shotgun combinations as category A weapons. Break action shotgun and centre-fire rifle combinations will continue to be classified as category B weapons.

Improve policing practices in regions with respect to new licence applications (effective 11 December 2012)

An audit of new licence applications identified that more than 50% of applications do not have enough information or documentation necessary to complete the processing of the application.  This adds to delays in processing leading to backlogs. A review of the Form 1 - New Licence Application has identified opportunities to clarify applicant requirements and improve quality assurance practices for police stations receiving applications. 

The application checklist for stations has been circulated as an interim measure to improve quality whilst a full review of the Form 1 is undertaken.  The new Form 1 is now available.

Improvements include:

  • Numerous changes to the Form (including the Guide) to clarify wording and assist applicants with completion
  • Clearer wording of and reduction in the number of the further information questions: for example ‘Have you, in Queensland or elsewhere ever been charged with an offence? (please tick yes even if you were charged but not convicted or a conviction was not recorded.’
  • Removal of the need for a Form 30 - Proof of Identity
  • Removal of the need for an applicant to supply a secondary genuine reason
  • Change in the current policy whereby photographs will now only be required to be provided on a 10 yearly basis rather than the current three to five yearly basis; and
  • Addition of a checklist for the Police Station use to assist in ensuring all required documentation is supplied
Extend the requirement for photographic identification to 10 years (previously implemented)

This brings Weapons Licensing in line with the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Passport Office. This initiative has been implemented.

Changes to the licence renewal application to provide for the confirmation of licensee’s particulars and circumstances (effective 11 December 2012)

The client will now confirm existing personal and licence details rather than completing a blank form. The new Renewal form is now available.

Improvements include:

  • Providing for the renewal of a licence through the confirmation of licensee’s particulars and circumstances. The object is that the client will confirm existing personal and licence details rather than completing a blank form
  • Numerous changes to the Form to clarify wording and assist applicants with ease of completion: for example an applicant will confirm the storage facility recorded in a previous section of the application (if applicable) rather than having to supply details which are already held by Weapons Licensing
  • Removal of the need for a Form 30 - Proof of Identity
  • Removal of the need for an applicant to supply a secondary genuine reason
  • Change in the current policy whereby photographs will now only be required to be provided on a 10 yearly basis rather than the current three to five yearly basis; and
  • Addition of a checklist for the Police Station use to assist in ensuring all required documentation is supplied.
Allow a Permit to Acquire application to be lodged with a new licence application (previously implemented)

Previously a Permit to Acquire (PTA) could only be issued once the licence application has been issued.  There is a 28 day waiting period for the issue of both a licence and a PTA, so many clients wait for two months or more for both processes to be completed.

The release of Weapons Applications Online on 15 November 2012 allows new online Weapons Licence applications and PTAs to be applied for at the same time and this amendment allow both to run concurrently rather than consecutively.

Extend the renewal period for Category D licences for up to five years (effective 11 December 2012)

The licence period for a category D firearm is extended from one year to five years. Extending the term of category D licences is expected to result in processing efficiencies and financial benefits to licensees.

To safeguard against the prolonged possession of category D firearms the QPS has introduced a number of policing practice initiatives such as real time probity through QPRIME, assessment of licensees upon application for a PTA and state-wide random auditing of weapons storage facilities.

Last updated 15/07/2013