Firearms Lawyer Simon Munslow answers your legal questions.

The Loose Cannon

A number of people have as asked me to compare the law between each state and territory in respect to issues that I consider in my articles. I do not think this is a good idea.

One can assume that my blog is read by both shooters and by regulators, and if I start to set out different interpretations from around Australia, there is a risk that those who oppose us may start adopting the harshest interpretation discussed.

Having said this, if you want me to cover a particular issue from the point of view of your state or territory, let me know, and I will endeavour to oblige.

If you have any questions, subject matter for further articles, ‘leaks’ or morsels of intel that you think may be of interest to myself and other readers, I would love to hear from you.

General advice provided is free and also confidential. If the question raises issues of interest to others I may utilise the facts. I always modify them, and take steps to conceal individual identities.


Many people who own properties or a rural block often leave firearms in a safe on the property, and the safe may remain unattended for several months, or in some case, in excess of a year.

The owner usually assumes that the area that the property is in, is, because of its tranquillity, a low crime area. This is not always the case, and often one may find local low life targeting unattended properties while the owners are away. This tends to be a sporadic problem.

Unfortunately for you, the Police, and the community, if the theft occurs during a long absence, the trail is well and truly cold as far as Police are concerned, causing frustration to Police, and a thief to get away with it.

Shooters are warned that storage requirements in NSW have two elements, there is the commonly known requirement regarding storage of firearms in a safe that needs needs to weigh 150 kg or be bolted down, (section 40) but there is also a more general provision (s 39) requiring that a licence holder ‘All reasonable steps’ to ensure the safekeeping of a firearm. One can argue that an owner has not taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to secure a firearm if it is left in an isolated rural property that is unattended for long periods even where the firearm is secured in a safe that complies with the law. (These references are to NSW Firearms Act 1996, but similar obligations exist elsewhere).

In some states the words ‘all reasonable steps’ are missing from the legislation. For example, Queensland refers to ‘a licensee who has control of a weapon must keep the weapon in secure storage facilities at the place when a person is not physically in possession of the weapon’. (s60 Weapons Act 1990 (Qld)). Clearly if the means of compromising the security system is at hand, then the firearm is not in ‘secure storage’.

Here I am reminded of Police photographs that I have seen in a number of matters, where commonly legally available, compliant gun safes, have been compromised by angle grinders, welding gear, and in one instance, by a mentally ill woman with a block splitter.

If you do not want to take the firearms home with you, consider removing the bolts, and taking that part home. This way, if there is a break in, what the thief recovers is useless to them.


I just watched (6pm channel 7 news 14/03/14) regarding Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa. It is a good example of the media problem that we face. A journalist referred to ‘more compelling evidence’. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?

 A journalist on another channel was talking the other day at length, about evidence led by the prosecution that Steenkamp was a ‘gun nut’.

What is a ‘gun nut?’.

Like most of you, I shoot, own a few firearms. I dearly love my sport. Does this mean I am a latent murderer in the eyes of the media, and so entitled to a lesser standard of justice by virtue of trial by media?

Apparently so.

This is something we all need to ponder.

I am reminded of a conference in WA in the 80’s at which Professor Frank Zimring, an American anti- gun advocate commented of Australia ‘you do not have a gun control problem, you have a media problem, and I do not know quite what you should do about it’.


My dad and I are professional Kangaroo shooters. Our rifles were seized by the Police after dad was charged with an assault. The rifles are licensed to both of us.


You did not indicate whether any of the firearms were allegedly used in respect to the assault. If one was, Police will not return that one because it is evidence. If your father is found guilty of the charge, an application will be made to the Magistrate for a ‘destruction order’ regarding that firearm.

Note, that if a destruction order is made, your solicitor should ask the Magistrate for permission to remove telescopic sights and any other accessory on the firearm. Whenever I attend Court with a shooter, I specifically carry a Chapman screwdriver kit for just this purpose!

If other firearms are not ‘evidence’, I suggest you write to the Regional Commander of the Local Police district that you reside in- a quick call to a local Police station will secure his or her name and rank.

Write a letter to the Regional Commander. It needs to indicate your name and licence details, and those of your father, set out the facts in brief of what your father has been charged with, why you need the firearms returned, and what steps will be taken to prevent your father accessing the firearms.

This should secure the return of any non-exhibit.





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Simon Munslow