Victorian Firearms Storage - "Away From Home" Requirements - The Loose Cannon

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While Queensland and Queensland may have been named after Queen Victoria, to me, of the Australian states, only our southern most states, Victoria and Tasmania can lay claim to being God’s country.

Having spent my formative years in a Northern climate may I must confess, have had an effect. And while I prefer Tasmania’s climate. I prefer Victoria’s diversity of introduced wildlife. It brings arouses the ‘inner pom’ in me and like many, I travel down there whenever I can.

I am often asked- What are the storage requirements for firearms when traveling in, or away from home in Victoria?

Firstly, NSW residents please note, if you have met all NSW safe travel storage standards, you are compliant in Victoria.

I suggest readers google the VICPOL ‘Firearms Safety Booklet’- it is on line-
Page 35 contains essentially the following information

• Buy a hard case or soft cover to make the firearm less obvious and keep it out of sight. (making it less likely to traumatise the hoplophobic, or exclte the opportunistically light fingered).
• You must have a lawful reason to have a firearm with you.
• It is advisable to remove the bolt.
• If there is a magazine is in the firearm it must be empty
• Firearms should not be left unattended in vehicles and adequate steps should be taken to secure the vehicle and firearm
• One should ask if there is anything else one can do to prevent the firearm from being stolen.

All sage stuff.

The legal requirements are set out in s126 of the Victorian Firearms Act, that appears at the foot of this article. In summary, it requires that when a firearm or ammunition is being carried or used that you take all reasonable steps to ensure that its carriage or use, is not dangerous, and that it is not lost and stolen.

What does ‘carried or used’ mean?

The definition of ‘carry’ in the Act as including a firearm in whole or part does not assist.

The Macquarie Dictionary defines a ‘Carriage’ as a wheeled vehicle, and a ‘Carrier’ as one who conveys goods. Clearly the firearm is being ‘carried’ when the firearm is in transit.

If this was not the case, there would be no use for the word ‘used’, as the ‘use’ of a firearm logically includes more than the period covering the pointing of a firearm at the target and its firing.

The use of the word ‘reasonable’ applies a practical standard. What is ‘reasonable’ when you are traveling from Bondi NSW to Fitzroy Victoria would not be the same as if you were driving from Yarrawonga to Wangaratta, or a ten to thirty-minute drive out of town for a hunt, or crossing the road with a firearm as one moves from one paddock to another.

Subject to where I am going, my security may vary between locking a firearm into a gun case and chaining the firearms case to the vehicle, with bolt secured under separate lock and key down to simply unloading the firearm and keeping it out of sight- it all comes down to assessment of risk and distance to be covered.

I am also a big user of trigger action locks- I know they are a waste of time as protection against all bar a child, and can be drilled out and removed by a thief in seconds, but it is an additional, ‘practical’, ‘reasonable’, precaution that always impresses Police, Prosecutors and Magistrates that you are conscious of security and prepared to do more than the minimum.

A trigger action lock is also a useful additional safety precaution to additionally secure a firearm when in camp.

If I am leaving a vehicle, I NEVER leave the bolt in the vehicle, even if it is in a locked container. The silicone impregnated rag that it is wrapped in when in a locked tool box, always gets removed from the box, and deposited in a draw string bag that I slip into my back pack.

Excessive security? I think not. I would prefer to explain to a Police Officer that a Firearm that has just been stolen from my vehicle is of no use because I have the bolt, than be charged for inadequate storage, or even worse, discover later that my firearm had been used to commit an offence.

When in camp, if a firearm is not in use, unload it, and lock it and the ammunition away separately out of sight in a vehicle and lock the vehicle. The vehicle with the firearm locked in it should be in camp and under observation.

In this situation I also tend to also keep the bolt with me, taking appropriate care to ensure that it does not get lost.

Vicpol have done a pretty good job with their Firearms Safety Brochure, please read it, and make a practice of periodically re-reading it. You can never go over the basics often enough.

I shall also pay VICPOL the ultimate lawyer’s complement of plagiarising them in my last remark:

‘Ask yourself; is there anything more I can reasonably do to ensure my firearms are not lost or stolen?’

Safety is important, and it is important for us to get the ‘message out’. If any club wishes to reproduce this article in their magazine, please do so in full and with attribution.

Simon Munslow October 2018

FIREARMS ACT 1996 - SECT 126

Safekeeping of firearms and cartridge ammunition while being carried or used

(1) A person who is carrying or using a category A or B longarm must—
(a) ensure that the firearm is carried and used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous; and
(b) must take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm is not lost or stolen.
Penalty: 60 penalty units or 12 months’ imprisonment.
(2) A person who is carrying or using a category C or D longarm or a general category handgun must—
(a) ensure that the firearm is carried and used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous; and
(b) must take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm is not lost or stolen.
Penalty: 120 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment.
(3) A person who is carrying or using a category E longarm or a category E handgun must—
(a) ensure that the firearm is carried and used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous; and
(b) must take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm is not lost or stolen.
Penalty: 240 penalty units or 4 years imprisonment.
(4) A person who is carrying or using cartridge ammunition must—
(a) ensure that the cartridge ammunition is carried and used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous; and

(b) must take reasonable precautions to ensure that the cartridge ammunition is not lost or stolen.

Penalty: 60 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment.

Simon Munslow

National Firearms Lawyer
P: (02) 6299 9690
M: 0427 280 962
E: solicitor@bigpond.com
W: firearmslawyer.com.au

Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.

He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.

This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice. 
He can assist you with:

Criminal law & Administrative law and in particular that related to Firearms

• All firearms, weapons and game charges
• Avoiding & setting aside Apprehended Violence Orders
• Possession of unregistered firearms
• Unsafe transportation & storage matters
• Applications for prohibited weapons
• License Appeals
• Freedom of Information / Government Public Access matters
• Importation & Customs problems
• Advices & opinions related to Firearms law matters

 

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