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Sentencing Outcomes for Firearms Offences

Sentencing Outcomes for Firearms Offences

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No 02/2016 by Tom Gotsis

"Firearms offences" is a generic term that covers a broad range of offences in both the Firearms Act 1996 and the Crimes Act 1900. Firearms offences include: possessing, using, discharging, manufacturing, altering and supplying various categories of firearms, firearm parts and ammunition. Despite the breadth of the term, the unifying characteristic of firearms offences is the underlying threat to public safety posed by the misuse of firearms.

This paper sets out the recent history of firearms offences, including the origins of the Firearms Act 1996 in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre. It then outlines the distinction between non-strictly indictable and strictly indictable firearms offences, and considers the significance of that distinction on the sentencing of firearms offences. The role and effect of standard non-parole periods on the sentencing of firearms offences is also considered. Sentencing statistics for firearms offences are then presented.

The paper further provides a discussion of the objectives and main features of the recent amendments to firearms offences that were introduced by the Firearms and Weapons Prohibition Legislation Amendment Act 2015 and the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Amendment (Firearms Offences) Act 2015.