When moving house, it's important to know how to stay compliant and to avoid theft or legal action.

Know the law: The pitfalls of moving


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Simon Munslow is a firearms lawyer and will be contributing to Sporting Shooter regularly on firearms related matters. If you have a question for Simon, please contact him on (02) 6299 9690 or solicitor@bigpond.com.

Most shooters are aware of the storage requirements in their jurisdiction, or any other jurisdiction that they pass through, or stay in with firearms. If they are not, they should be ashamed of themselves, and I strongly suggest that anyone in this situation, obtain a copy of a brochure from relevant Firearms Registries and study them.

The requirements have also been set out by myself, and by others elsewhere in some detail.

One of the most dangerous periods for firearms owners, and one that unfortunately gives rise to more than its fair share of charges, arises when a shooter moves house.

There are two reasons for this, firstly, your house is being showcased, and is subjected to visits by potential buyers who may talk to others, and by and others whose agendas are a little less pure, and, at a certain point in the sale process, your procedures regarding storage will change.

Additionally, this is a time when you will inevitably have competing priorities and you may not have planned for appropriate firearms storage and legal compliance.

Prior to your home being showed by an agent, ideally remove any items from the house that are hunting related and cover the gun safe with an old sheet or similar. The aim of this is to conceal your involvement in the sport.

This advice may also help you sell the house, as shooting paraphernalia can offend the sensibilities of some purchasers.

I know of one matter where a couple of cashed up enviro nuts, walked out of an open house in upmarket and leafy Farrer in the ACT, after spotting the owner’s extensive hunting and fishing library in the study, and no doubt his filing cabinet, which was adorned with pro-hunting and anti-Green stickers.

I was advised by the owner and agent that they promptly adopted a look of distaste and walked out. The owner advised me he would not have sold the property to them anyway, but I think the agent had other ideas!

Try to avoid open houses. I know estate agents say that they record the names of people attending, however, these records are not checked, and there have been many incidents of items going missing during open homes, and of homes being burgled following such inspections.

Open homes also tend to be frequented more by nosey neighbours, and they have less to do with selling your house, than giving agents leads in respect to the sale of others.

When it comes to moving, it can be an idea to book your firearms in with a dealer or club for a few days while you move your gun safe, otherwise, there may well be a period where you are not complying with storage laws.

If you decide not to do this, have a plan, remove all bolts from firearms and lock them up separately, and consider fitting trigger action locks to non-bolt-action firearms.

Trigger action locks can be purchased that are keyed identically, or alternatively, digital ones can be purchased, that can be coded the same. That you have taken this step tends to be well regarded by police, magistrates and by the Registry, despite the fact that 30 seconds with an angle grinder would compromise most such devices, which really only work to child-proof the firearm.

Then take the safe straight to the new property and install it. If you cannot commit to doing it immediately, I suggest you have someone else install it, even if you have to pay them, otherwise, it will be out of sight and out of mind in the garage, and other chores will achieve priority, and a period of procrastination spanning weeks, months and even years will occur.

The next thing you will know you will be charged with being non-compliant and on the phone to me.

I also suggest that you sit down and prepare an action plan in respect to the firearms (or incorporate it into your action plan regarding the move) so that you are taking all reasonable steps to secure the firearms, particularly while there are strangers in the house. This will include particular steps to secure keys to safes.

Finally, do not forget to notify the Registry of your change of address within 14 days of your move. Again to avoid procrastination, I suggest you do this immediately.

Simon Munslow

This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does the reading of it establish a solicitor-client relationship the reader and Simon Munslow. If you have a firearms related problem please ensure that you consult a suitably qualified legal practitioner. I can be contacted on (02) 6299 9690 or solicitor@bigpond.com.


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