NSW Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill

NSW Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill

The NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill has concluded and a report has been published that makes 9 recommendations to the NSW Parliament to consider.

Recommendation 1

That the Legislative Council:

  • proceed to debate the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020, but not pass the bill in its current form
  • only pass the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 if substantially amended during the Committee of the Whole stage as detailed in recommendations 2 to 9.

Recommendation 2

That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to incorporate a similar defence for licensed firearms owners to that present in sections 37(3)(a) and 37(4)(a) in the South Australian Firearms Act 2015.

Recommendation 3

That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to:

  • amend the Firearms Act 1996 to define what minor repairs, routine maintenance and adjustments firearm licence holders and firearm permit holders are authorised to undertake to their registered firearms
  • amend the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 to define what minor repairs, routine maintenance and adjustments prohibited weapons licence holders and prohibited weapon permit holders are authorised to undertake to their registered prohibted weapons.

Recommendation 4

That the Legislative Council amend the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to create a discrete negligence-based
offence with an appropriate and proportionate lower maximum penalty, consistent with the gradation of other criminal offences under New South Wales legislation.

Recommendation 5 

That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to:

  • tailor the unauthorised manufacture offences to cover the broad spectrum of offending covered by the proposed provisions.
  • ensure that the penalty thresholds for these offences are proportionate with other similar offences in New South Wales legislation.

Recommendation 6 

That the Legislative Council amend sections 51K and 25F of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that
police are required to seek a court order when requiring the owner of a device to supply the password of any computer, phone or storage device seized by police suspected of containing evidence.

Recommendation 7

That the Legislative Council amend sections 51K and 25F of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that owners may apply for the return of their seized property and goods in accordance with all of Part 17 of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002.

Recommendation 8

That the Legislative Council amend section 74A(1) of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that police are required to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ prior to searching any other persons on the premises, vehicle, vessel or aircraft of a person subject to an Firearms Prohibition Order.

Recommendation 9 

That the Legislative Council amend the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that police search powers for
persons subject to a Firearms Prohibition Order be differentiated so that appropriate protections are provided to persons aged under 18 years.

Following the release of this report, a record breaking petition organised by the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia – New South Wales, was tabled in Parliament by the Hon. Phillip Donato MP. The ensuing debate can be watched here https://youtu.be/TZBx3MITyr8.