Gun safety code set for review after case dismissed

12-October-2015 General By Nicholas Satouris

Streeterlaw recently represented a client who was charged with the offence of “Not keeping a firearm safely”, pursuant to the Firearms Act 1996, section
39(1)(a).

The client had travelled to Dubbo for work and was planning to do some social shooting while there. He arrived at 6pm on a Sunday night and had intended
to take his two shotguns to the rural property (where he was going shooting) for safekeeping. However, after he arrived, he was urgently called
to begin the job. So, as a short-term measure, he placed his guns under his bed in his hotel room and went to the job. The next morning, he set
off for his work again and again left the guns under the bed.

He thought he was doing the right thing because he had read the National Firearms Safety Guide, freely available online, which said:“… When travelling with firearms, you should take precautions to minimise the likelihood of unauthorised access or theft. Depending on the circumstances, it may be more secure to lock your firearms up within your temporary accommodation (motel room, guestroom) rather than leaving them locked in your car …”

While our client was away at his job, hotel staff found the guns while cleaning the room and called the police, who came and inspected the room and
charged him with the offence.

Our client entered a “guilty” plea at the Local Court. His plea came up for hearing in August this year.

Our client submitted two character references, detailing his good behaviour and lack of any previous offences. We also made submissions that our client
was simply following the National Firearms Safety Code, published online by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, when he left his guns
in his hotel room.

Unfortunately, the law also states that our client should have taken steps to have the guns secured in a gun safe while he was working in Dubbo.

The magistrate accepted our client’s character references and his clean record leading up to this charge. He accordingly dismissed the charge (on the
basis of Section 10 of the Crimes Act).

Interestingly, the magistrate also directed the police prosecutor and the court to bring this matter before the Commonwealth Government to ensure the
Safety Code is reviewed, in order to avoid the confusion that presently exists in the Code’s wording.

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