Firearms licence holders with hunting and sport/target shooting listed as their genuine reason to have a firearm do not need additional permits or licences to hunt on Crown land.
This clarification of the Firearms Act was sought after recent amendments to it blurred the requirements for hunters.
SSAA Victoria brought the issue to the Victorian Firearms Consultative Committee which provides input to the Government on firearms issues.
When the legislation was initially drafted concerns were raised that the exemptions provided to allow for the possession, carrying and use of firearms in public places were not broad enough and did not cater for all legal activities.
“We raised the issue in the consultative stage of the process and as a result, an additional paragraph was inserted into the legislation to broaden the exemptions,” SSAA Hunting Development Manager David Laird said.
“But our members then raised concerns that under the amendments to the Firearms Act, the police interpretation was that it was no longer legal to hunt pest species on public land without either a game licence or a DELWP Registration of Interest to hunt pest animals on Crown land.
“We sought clarification on the issue from the Licensing and Regulation Division and discovered this was not the case.”
The following is an extract from the advice provided:
Section 130(2A)(g) of the Firearms Act 1996 has three limbs:
- a person who holds a licence under this Act, and
- who is possessing, carrying or using a firearm in accordance with the licence and
- with any other requirements of any other law, licence, permit or other authority that applies to the possession, carriage or use.
It is the third limb which is causing umbrage. Assuming an individual is appropriately licensed, to engage the exemption under Section 130(2A)(g) the individual would have to comply with “other requirements”. The “other requirements” would include game licences, observations of hunting on Crown land, etc.
If those “other requirements” included a stipulation regarding shooting in public places, then then the stipulation would need to be observed.
If no game licence is required in the circumstances then provided the firearm is being used for the purpose of issue (i.e. use for the genuine reason as this would be in “accordance with the licence”), an individual would not be committing an offence against sections 130(1), (1A) or (2).
The understanding was that Section 130 (2A) (g) was introduced to protect licence holders from getting caught in the previous sub-subsections by providing that they would not be committing an offence for having a firearm in a public place subject to it being possessed, used or carried in accordance with the reason for having the firearm.
In layman’s terms, if a firearms licence is endorsed for hunting and/or sport/target shooting as a genuine reason, the holder of the licence may hunt pest species on public land, subject to complying with any other legal requirements. The licence holder does not need a game licence or a DELWP Registration of interest to hunt pest animals on Crown land.
If any SSAA Victoria members are given advice contrary to this by the police or Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning staff, please provide details to firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.