Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Thursday, 17 November 2022 12:25

Weapons Charges in Queensland

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)


The law in relation to weapons in Queensland is primarily governed by the Weapons Act 1990 and the Weapons Regulation 2016.

The principles and object of the Weapons Act are –

  • Weapon possession and use are subordinate to the need to ensure public and individual safety;
  • Public and individual safety is improved by imposing strict controls on the possession of weapons and requiring the safe and secure storage and carriage of weapons.
  • The object of this Act is to prevent the misuse of weapons.



Possessing Weapons without a Licence

It is unlawful to possess weapons without a licence. There is a sliding scale of penalty depending on the weapons possessed.

a) If a person possesses 10 or more weapons, where at least five are semi-automatic rifles or semi-automatic shotguns, or handguns, or machine guns – the person is liable to a maximum of 13 years imprisonment;

b) If the above does not apply and a person possesses 10 or more weapons – maximum 10 years imprisonment or maximum fine of $69,000;

c) If neither of the above apply, then –

i,  For a semi-automatic rifle or semi-automatic shotgun, or handgun, or machine gun – maximum 7 years imprisonment or maximum fine of $41,000

ii.  For a semi-automatic rifle or semi-automatic shotgun or a bullet proof vest – a maximum of 4 years imprisonment or maximum fine of $27,000

iii.  For a rifle, single or double barrel shotgun, paintball gun, air rifle, crossbow, most types of melee weapons, most types of knives – a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or maximum fine of $13,000.

There are also minimum penalties if the weapons are possessed in any of the following circumstances –

d) For an offence committed by an adult which all categories except iii above apply –

i. If the person unlawfully possesses a firearm and uses the firearm to commit an indictable offence—18 months actual imprisonment;

ii. If the person unlawfully possesses a firearm for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of an indictable offence—1 year’s actual imprisonment;

iii. If the person unlawfully possesses a short firearm in a public place without a reasonable excuse—1 year’s actual imprisonment.

e) For an offence, committed by an adult, to which iii applies—

i. If the person unlawfully possesses a firearm and uses the firearm to commit an indictable offence—9 months actual imprisonment;

ii. If the person unlawfully possesses a firearm for the purpose of committing or facilitating the commission of an indictable offence—6 month actual imprisonment.


Possession of an Unregistered Firearm

It is an offence for a person with a firearms licence to possess an unregistered gun.

A firearm is unregistered if it is not entered into the firearms register in Queensland.

“Possession” includes:

  • Having the firearm in one’s custody; and
  • Having the firearm under one’s control in any place, whether or not another has custody of the firearm; and
  • Having an ability to obtain custody of the firearm at will; and
  • Having a claim to custody of the firearm which the claimant has committed to the custody of another, notwithstanding that the firearm is temporarily not in the control of the person having such claim

The maximum fine is $16,000.


Possession of a Knife in a Public Place or School

A person must not physically possess a knife in a public place or a school, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

A reasonable excuse includes –

  1. a) to perform a lawful activity, duty or employment; or
  2. b) to participate in a lawful entertainment, recreation or sport; or
  3. c) for lawfully exhibiting the knife; or
  4. d) for use for a lawful purpose.

The knife must be in a person’s possession however that does not mean it must be on them at the time of the offence.  It includes having control or custody of the knife even if it is not physically held by a person.

A “Knife” includes a thing with a sharpened point or blade that is reasonably capable of being held in one or both hands and being used to wound or threaten to wound anyone.

One of the most important definitions is that of a public place.  The law defines public place as any place that the public is entitled to use, is open to the public, or used by the public, whether on payment or otherwise.

The court has found that a knife in a car on the road is a public place however in Lord v Dwyer [2009] QDC 407 the court found a person who had picked up a knife on a driveway so as to secure it from nearby children was a reasonable excuse and dismissed the charges.

The potential penalty includes a maximum of 1 year’s imprisonment or maximum fine of $5,500.


Shortening Firearms

A person must not, without reasonable excuse –

  1. a) shorten a firearm; or
  2. b) possess a firearm that has been shortened; or
  3. c) acquire or sell a firearm that has been shortened.

Maximum 4 years imprisonment or $27,500.


Other Offences

There are also laws in relation to supplying weapons and storage of weapons, but these charges are relatively rare, so I have excluded them from this article.

Which Court are These Offences Heard In?

All offences, except the offence which carries 13 years maximum, can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.



As can be seen, the possession of weapons, especially firearms, is strictly controlled in Queensland and a person can face very severe penalties for merely having them. This is not limited to firearms, however, and there are not less than 21 different categories of melee or bladed weapons that are also prohibited. Self-defence is never a lawful excuse for possessing a weapon under Queensland Law.

If you are unsure what weapons you may be able to have and under what circumstances, we recommend you seek legal advice.


How do I get more information or engage Clarity Law to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further obligation free information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. Book a time for us to call you
  4. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Read 425 times Last modified on Friday, 18 November 2022 12:37
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.