Thursday 30 October 2019

Hansard of the Legislative Council
Pre-1900 Firearms - Exemptions


[2.52 p.m.]
Pre-1900 firearms - antiques - were exempt from the Firearms Act 1996. 

(1)  How has their status changed?

(2)  Can a dealer be prosecuted for having an antique gun in their possession?



Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for his question. 

  1. Currently regulation of firearms manufactured prior to 1900 is exempted under the provisions of the Firearms Act 1996 by exemption no. 4 issued by the Commissioner of Police.  It is called the fourth exemption because it was the fourth one issued by the commissioner under the act.  It was first issued in May 1997.

    Exemption no. 4 exempts people from the -

    –•   requirement to hold a firearms licence in respect of any such firearm

    •   requirement to register any such firearm

    •   storage and safekeeping requirements of section 85 of the Firearms Act. 

    Exemption no. 4 does not exempt all pre-1900 firearms from these requirements.  It only exempts firearms that 'are not designed to discharge cartridge ammunition or for which cartridge ammunition is not commercially available'. 

    If a firearm does not fit the exemption criteria, it is subject to all the provisions of the Firearms Act in relation to registration and licensing of the owner. 

    To answer your question, there has been no change to the status of pre-1900 firearms. 

  2. A licensed firearms dealer is approved to handle certain categories of firearm, and in many cases would be lawfully able to possess firearms irrespective of whether they are pre-1900 antiques covered by exemption no. 4 or firearms manufactured before 1900 that are not covered by the exemption, or indeed firearms manufactured after 1900. 

    The exemption does not exempt a person from -

    •   the requirement to be licensed to deal in firearms, specifically the offence under section 11 of the      act

•   the requirement for a firearms dealer to record transactions in their record of dealings under      section 89 of the Firearms Act.

While there has been no significant change since 1997, it has become apparent that some firearms dealers have misunderstood the requirements of exemption no. 4.  These issues are being identified through routine auditing and education of firearms dealers by Tasmania Police. 

Finally, the contents and scope of exemption no. 4 are at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police and may be adjusted by the commissioner at any time.  If there was consideration given to change exemption no. 4, this would be following stakeholder consultation and would generally address a concern in relation to community safety.