Firearms Lawyer Simon Munslow answers your legal questions.

Can Your Driving Record Affect Your Firearms Licence?


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People often tell me “it is not fair” when the Firearms Registry deny them a licence on the basis of a fairly shameful traffic history.

The incensed individual then goes on to say that Police should only take into account convictions for “real” offences, which I assume to mean offences involving drugs or violence and not traffic offences, which the caller regards as being more about revenue raising.

He (and it invariably is a he) then proceeds to tell me that, because it is not fair, Police cannot do it, and I should be able to do something about it.

First things first. There have been a number of cases where courts and tribunals have considered whether traffic records may be considered.  One of the most notable is a South Australian decision dealing with a security licence that uses the same statutory test as for firearms licences.

In Sobey v Commercial Agent Board ( 22 SASR 1979 page 70 at 75) the Court considered “any previous breaches of the law, and any propensity towards offending against the law, must in my view be regarded of crucial importance” in assessing a person for a security licence.

And in McVie v Qld Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch (2010 QCAT 49) the Tribunal placed weight upon the Applicant’s lack of “responsibility in his attitude both to the system of law and order in the community and other road users”.  The Tribunal went on to find that having regard to the applicant’s prior record of offending that it could not be satisfied that there was no risk to the public associated with the applicant being issued with a firearms licence.

In this case Mr McVie was 38 years of age, had breaches extending over 20 years and had accumulated 102 demerit points to date.

What I can do for an individual with this type of problem depends very much on the extent of their driving record, how recent it is and what it is for.

The odd speeding ticket for less than 15 kph over the limit can hardly be considered relevant, and denial of a licence based upon a patchy history of low level offences is itself grounds for appeal.

What is required to justify licence refusal upon this ground is a lengthy record for offences that involve a disregard for the law, irresponsibility, and dangerous and antisocial conduct at the wheel.  Here offences involving high speed and recklessness are particularly noteworthy.

Often one sees this type of pattern of irresponsibility on the road in an individual in their late teens and early twenties, and this behavior often settles down over time.  Sometimes there is an event that causes the individual to reconsider their behavior- a bad accident, death of a friend, marriage or starting a family are often signs.  Often, however, there is no such event, and all one can do is attribute it to a maturation process.

In either case, it is often possible to argue that the individual has reformed and overturn the refusal.


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