In this podcast, Hannay Lawyers’ Criminal Lawyer, Mac Gray discusses gun licensing changes in Queensland.
In Queensland, anyone wanting to use a gun, crossbow, paintball gun and even own certain types of knives must have a valid weapons license. It follows that the most commonly held license in Queensland is a general firearms license used by farmers in sports and target shooters. But over the years, the restrictions on gun licensing have become tighter. To find out what the current state of play is. I’m with Mac Gray, a criminal lawyer from Hannay Lawyers.
Mac, let’s discuss at the outset, how does someone apply for a license?
So applying for a gun license. Initially, one must do a safety course. You can do that at a gun range or a gun club. You’ve got to do a safety course in the specific category of a firearm that you’re wishing to acquire.
And Mac, assuming that there are checks and balances put in place to make sure that the person applying is in fact a fit and proper person? Yeah, that’s exactly right.
They’ll do background checks and sometimes often require applicants to get their own police checks and or provide any details about anything that may appear on any sort of history or that may come up in any checks as a result of that.
So what are the circumstances where a license may not be approved?
The predominant reasons are there is there’s a couple of trigger points that will automatically result in rejection of a license application, such as either outstanding or significant criminal histories, as well as any domestic violence proceedings and outcomes in the past, as well as a number of other factors that have recently been brought in that we will get to later on in the podcast.
So, Mac, conversely, the circumstances when they will be approved, I’m assuming that being a primary producer is probably one characteristic of a successful application.
So primary producers are your sort of main area where people require weapons licenses.
That’s for the purposes of work. Obviously, in order to get a primary producer license, you obviously have to satisfy the primary producer test initially and then show that you have a valid reason or necessity to have a firearm as part of your job. That often includes things such as wild pest control, humane destruction of pests and or animals, any of those sort of things like recreational shooting, target shooting, clay target shooting, that type of stuff.
So the recreational licenses, are the other main category of firearms.
Listeners will probably know that, since the mass shooting event by Martin Bryant in Tasmania, gun licensing has become quite tight over the years. But there’s been significant changes over those years that really seek to tighten things up further.
That’s correct. So recently some of the main ones have been a number of years ago, perhaps two to three years ago, there was a there was a clamp down in relation to primary producers and handgun licenses where a number of handgun licenses. So your handgun license comes up for renewal once a year. And primary producers were going to renew the handgun license and then being told by weapons licensing that they no longer had a valid reason to have that firearms license and possess shortened firearms, despite having held this license in some cases for numerous years, 10 to 15 years.
So there were a number of people who had originally been deemed fit and proper and eligible for that category of weapon and then were told that they were no longer eligible as a result of changes to the requirements for possessing those firearms.
What was the circumstances that changed the mind of the licensing bodies in the determination of what a fit and proper person should be?
There were a number of going back to the handgun sort of episode. There was from memory. Someone actually did or had a unlicensed handgun, a farmer. And that prompted the clamp down in that regard in relation to the tightening up of who can actually possess one, they were really clamping down on having really clear and obvious sort of reasons for having that handgun license. And so anyone who had originally sort of just had a blanket allowance or weapons license for the use of handguns in agriculture was then having to provide things like topographical maps are.
Really detailed reasons for the possession of that shortened firearm and things to sort of liking in relation to the other categories of rifles. It’s there was recently a breach of security for want of better terms in relation to firearms of weapons. Holder details. And this has prompted a bit of overhaul in relation to the now or the current definition of what is a fit and proper person. And that’s what’s prompted the most recent change in relation to the legislation.
So I’m assuming that there may will be a an escalation of people in the community, in the rural community, particularly, who now have to jump through the hoops in getting their license. Is that the case?
That’s exactly right, yes. So it’s almost even could be described as a retrospective application as well. So people who were once deemed fit and proper and have had firearms licenses for no number of years and any number of eligible reasons, recreational primary producer are now retrospectively being told that despite once being a fit and proper person, they are no longer fit and proper as a result to the amendments of the weapons licensing definition of what is fit and proper. So essentially, people are being told that they no longer qualify for something.
They are no longer eligible to hold a license that they may have held for 10 or 15 years previously.
And it goes without saying that, you know, if you are denied a license that the process of trying to get that license would be fairly overwhelming for most people to do. That’s correct, yes.
So in in certain circumstances, a weapons license holder can be issued with a show cause letter whereby weapons licensing or send them a letter saying you need to show cause in relation to it may be criminal history or a domestic violence proceedings or even mental health. And the applicant will then need to go away, gather the necessary material and provide that to weapons licensing in order to help their application.
Now, Hannay Lawyers, have got strong expertise in this regard, helping people that have been denied a license.
That’s certainly correct. We can help you through the process of drafting a show-cause letter or doing the show cause application. And then depending on the determination in relation to that, you will either be deemed to have shown cause and be granted a license or your license application may be rejected, upon which point you then have the ability to challenge that rejection at a QCAT hearing, which our lawyers are experts in and have a number of senior barristers who are also experts in that area who are happy to help right now.