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Can I Get a Firearms Licence With a Criminal Record?

two assault rifles

The possession and use of firearms are highly regulated in New South Wales. Ensuring that firearms are only in the hands of responsible and law-abiding individuals is a top priority for public safety. One crucial aspect of this regulation is determining whether individuals with a criminal record can obtain a firearms licence in NSW. Usually, if you have a criminal record, you cannot get a firearms licence.


Sections 11, 12, and 29 of the Firearms Act delineate the essential prerequisites that must initially be met to qualify for a firearms license or permit, as summarised below:


  • You must demonstrate that you are a person of good character and integrity, someone who can be entrusted with firearms without posing a threat to public safety or peace. Factors considered during this evaluation encompass your lifestyle, domestic situation, any history of self-harm or suicide attempts, intemperate habits, or mental health status. If, after assessing these factors, there is reasonable cause to believe you may not consistently and responsibly handle firearms, your application for a firearms license or permit may be denied.
  • Completion of mandatory firearms training and safety courses is required, but only if you have never previously held a firearms license.
  • You must possess the ability to meet the prescribed standards for firearm storage and safety.
  • Residency in New South Wales is a prerequisite, or you must be in the process of becoming a resident.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a clean criminal record for the past decade.
  • You must not have been under an apprehended violence order or interim AVO in the last 10 years, unless it was subsequently revoked.
  • You must not currently be under a good behaviour bond, Community Correction Order, or Conditional Release Order due to certain serious offences like drug-related crimes, specific assaults, intimidation, sexual offences, fraud, dishonesty, or theft.
  • You must not be under a firearms prohibition order.
  • You must not be a registrable person as per the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW).
  • You must not be deemed a risk to public safety, with this assessment considering any criminal intelligence reports or other criminal information related to you.
  • You must not be considered a person to whom granting a firearms license would go against the public interest. This assessment takes into account any criminal intelligence reports or other criminal information associated with you.

What Is a Criminal Record?

Before looking into obtaining a firearms licence with a criminal record in NSW, it’s essential to understand what a criminal record entails. A criminal record is a documented history of a person’s involvement in criminal activities and interactions with law enforcement. It contains information about arrests, charges, convictions, and any related penalties or sentences.


A criminal record can result from a range of offences, including but not limited to:


  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Drug-related offences
  • Fraud
  • Property-related crimes
  • Violent crimes
  • Traffic offences (e.g., driving under the influence)


In New South Wales, criminal records are maintained by law enforcement agencies, and they are accessible to authorised personnel, such as police officers, judges, and government officials. The presence of a criminal record can have significant implications for various aspects of a person’s life, including employment opportunities, travel, and the ability to obtain a firearms licence.

Obtaining a firearms licence in New South Wales is a comprehensive process, and the authorities take various factors into account to ensure that only responsible individuals gain access to firearms. Here are the key steps involved in applying for a firearms licence in NSW:


Determine the Type of Licence: There are several types of firearms licences available in NSW, each catering to specific purposes. These include:


Category A: Allows possession of air rifles, rimfire rifles, and shotguns for recreational hunting and sport shooting.


Category B: Includes handguns and centrefire rifles used in sports shooting and occupational reasons.


Category C: Pertains to specific purposes like primary production or pest animal control.


Category D: Applies to firearms collectors.


Category H: Covers handguns for sports shooting and security industry personnel.


Attend a Firearms Safety Training Course: To apply for any category of firearms licence, individuals are required to complete an approved firearms safety training course. This training educates applicants on safe firearm handling, storage, and usage.


Meet Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible for a firearms licence in NSW, individuals must:


  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a permanent resident of New South Wales.
  • Have a genuine reason for obtaining the licence, such as recreational shooting, hunting, or occupational needs.
  • Be of good character and meet the necessary safety requirements.
  • Not have a criminal record or a history of violence.

Apply Through a Licensed Firearms Dealer: Applicants must apply through a licensed firearms dealer, who will facilitate the application process and assist with the necessary paperwork.


Waiting Periods: After submitting the application, there is typically a waiting period of at least 28 days to allow for background checks and processing.

Police Checks: As part of the application process, the police conduct thorough background checks, including checking for any criminal record or history of violence.

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Legal Advice

Obtaining a firearms licence in New South Wales is a regulated and stringent process aimed at ensuring public safety while allowing responsible individuals access to firearms for legitimate purposes. While having a criminal record can complicate the application process, it does not automatically disqualify an individual from obtaining a firearms licence. The outcome depends on factors such as the nature of the offences, the time that has elapsed since convictions, and the applicant’s commitment to rehabilitation and responsible firearm ownership.


If you have been refused a firearms licence in NSW and require legal advice, criminal lawyers in Burwood. We can provide you with legal advice and assist you in writing to the NSW police in relation to any refusal.

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