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THE FIREARMS BULLETIN (VICTORIA POLICE – REGULATORY SERVICES DEPARTMENT) VOLUME 3, FRIDAY 1 OCTOBER 2021

THE FIREARMS BULLETIN (VICTORIA POLICE – REGULATORY SERVICES DEPARTMENT) VOLUME 3, FRIDAY 1 OCTOBER 2021

Welcome to our third edition of the Firearms Bulletin for 2021!

The Licensing and Regulation Division would again like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the all stakeholders within the firearms industry for their continued understanding and cooperation as we continue to navigate the Covid environment.

We are constantly striving to improve our services. To ensure that we continue to achieve a high level of service delivery, this quarterly newsletter will be used to raise issues with you and assist you in resolution.

To stay up-to-date with current information, please refer to the Victoria Police website https://www.police.vic.gov.au/firearms-industry-news

Current Status of Applications
Please be advised that the Licensing and Regulation Division (LRD) application processing times for new firearm licence approvals and renewal applications are as follows:
• New firearm licence applications submitted 5 August 2021
• Firearm licence renewals submitted 14 August 2021
The above processing times are indicative only and complex applications or those with suitability concerns may take longer to process. To stay up to date you can also access the status of processing times on the Victoria Police website for firearms, which is frequently updated and will provide you with the most current information about your application.
Please also remember:
• Applications can take up to 28 days to process therefore we may not respond to requests if your application was received by our office within this 28-day period. This time frame is not applicable to individual applications that are incomplete or require further information from the applicant.

Handgun Participation
In response to the ongoing health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian Government has continued to issue restrictions for travel and movement throughout the state in 2021. Due to these restrictions, the Licensing and Regulation Division (LRD) are aware that general category handgun licence holders have had limited opportunities to attend and participate at shooting clubs and are likely to be unable meet target shooting participation requirements for the 2021 calendar year.

As a result, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police has issued a variation of conditions for all general category handgun licence holders who own handguns for target shooting by waiving 100 per cent of participation requirements for the 2021 calendar year.

This means that, effective immediately, annual participation requirements for general category handgun licence holders are not needed for the 2021 calendar year.

This variation will be automatically applied to all affected general category handgun licence holders, individual applications for modifications are not needed.

Shooting clubs are reminded that they must:
• Continue to keep accurate records of any shoots conducted and applications for club membership.
• Submit a report for the 2021 calendar year within the first 3 months of 2022 per section 123c of the Firearms Act 1996.
• Notify the Chief Commissioner of the acceptance of new members, refusal of applications for memberships and if a membership has been cancelled or suspended.

Members are also reminded that:
• They must continue to be a member of an approved handgun target shooting club
• Ongoing club membership is a condition of their licence
• They must continue to store their handguns safely and per Schedule 4 of the Firearms Act 1996.
Failure to comply with any licence conditions may result in the cancellation of a licence.

LRD would like to encourage the industry to refer to the Victoria Police website for additional information on handgun participation for 2021.

LFD Public Liability Insurance
The Licensing and Regulation Division (LRD) requires all Licenced Firearm Dealers (LFD’s) to ensure they hold public liability insurance by Monday 1 November 2021. Firearm Dealers will be required to demonstrate that they have complied with this requirement upon renewal of their dealers’ licence. If renewal applications are submitted prior to Monday 1 November 2021 LFD’s are required to provide evidence of public liability as outlined in the Licenced Firearm Dealers Renewal Guidelines.

Gel Blasters
Victoria Police has determined that gel blasters and similar types of devices are classified as imitation firearms in Victoria if they have the appearance of a firearm.

This means that:
1. A gel blaster that has the appearance of an operable firearm and can be reasonably mistaken for a firearm are now regulated as an imitation firearm in accordance with section 3 of the Control of Weapons Act 1990.
2. A gel blaster that does not have the appearance of an operable firearm and could not be reasonably mistaken for a firearm are now classified as a toy firearm and not regulated.
3. A gel blaster that has been adapted or manufactured to operate like a firearm (whether it looks like a firearm or not) is now regulated as a firearm under the Firearms Act 1996.
Please note that gel balls are not subject to any regulation as they are not regarded to be ammunition as defined under section 3 of the Firearms Act 1996.

Victoria Police still do not currently issue approvals for gel blasters to any individual or organisation. Therefore, there remains no lawful genuine reason to possess or use a gel blaster in Victoria.

This decision will not only remove any ambiguity surrounding the regulations around gel blasters, it will also allow Victoria Police members to appropriately enforce legislation without the need to physically inspect each device when an item is seized except in the case where the gel blaster appears to have been modified to operate like a firearm.

For further information on gel blasters please visit Victoria Police’s Firearms Industry News webpage https://www.police.vic.gov.au/firearms-industry-news

Online Dealer System (OLDS)

Processing Interstate Transaction
When processing Interstate Firearms via OLDS – As currently communicated on our Online Bulletin, prior to any Interstate Firearms being created you must contact LRD via email or phone (during operational hours) to assist you.

Please ensure that when confirmation is received from LRD that the firearm is registered on our system, that you record all the firearm and serial number information as is to avoid any duplications. In addition, users are only required to log the acquisition once and not multiple times. This will ensure that duplicate firearms are not created. If there is modification required to the firearm description, then you can log a firearms details change after processing the interstate acquisition.

A friendly reminder that LRD is actively monitoring the compliance of the above process as a response to previous non-compliance from users and providing feedback along the way. If LRD continues to identify a user not following the process and continuing to create firearm duplicates, then a review of the access will be undertaken and can lead to revocation of your access and that of the dealership.

Ordinary Storage Address (OSA)
OLDS Users need to ensure accuracy of an address when recording an OSA on behalf of the applicant. LRD has identified missing suburbs, incorrect spelling of street address and postcode. Please ensure that you check the accuracy of the information before you lodge the request.

Online Dealer Training Manual
LRD strongly encourages all users to refer to this guide to assist with having a sound understanding of the use of the Online Dealer System before logging an error with the Service Desk number. This manual is a further extension to the online training and assessment that all users need to complete prior to access being granted.

Online Dealer System Access
If you are interested in the use of the Online Dealer System, please send an email to LRD-FDTPermits-MGR@police.vic.gov.au to express your interest.

Flashpoints
Reporting Requirements – Exportation Permit (also known as a Restricted Goods Permit)
Section 118 of the Firearms Act 1996 requires a Licensed Firearms Dealer to submit a Dealer’s Transaction Return (also referred to as a Notice of Transactions) to the Licensing & Regulation Division within 28 days of the transaction taking place.
A reminder: All associated permits to acquire processed by the Licensed Firearms Dealer, including export permits and SA and NSW permits to acquire are to be attached to the Dealer’s Transaction Return sent to the Division. If reports are electronic or faxed, originals will still need to be posted.

Reporting Requirements – Accuracy of Information
LRD is currently undertaking high volume of follow ups pertaining to firearms information with the Licensed Dealer. Licensed Firearms Dealers must take care when recording transaction information in either the Online Dealer System, Firearm Dealer’s Register or the Dealer’s Transaction Return. Particular attention should be taken with serial numbers, so that the incorrect recording of a serial number via OLDS, or in a Firearm Dealer’s Register or Dealer’s Transaction Return is minimised (e.g. confusing a G with a 6, a 5 with an S, a B with an 8 etc).

A means to avoid this issue is to physically sight the serial number on the firearm and not what is printed on the box. In addition to this you can also request (where applicable) a firearms list or registration certification from the licence holder when acquiring or acting as an agent to ensure that the firearms data quality is maintained or enhanced where required. Alternatively, please send images of the firearms, firearms marking and serial no so LRD can assist with an assessment and determination.

A Dealer’s Transaction Return must be cross checked (with a Permit to Acquire) prior to submission to ensure that all the details requested have been completed, are clear, legible and recorded accurately. This will assist the Licensing & Regulation Division in maintaining an accurate record of ownership transactions and will minimise phone calls that the Licensing & Regulation Division will make to the dealership for confirmation details.

Licensed Firearms Dealer Guide
LRD strongly encourages all LFD to refer to this guide to assist with having a sound understanding of your responsibilities and obligations as an LFD under the Firearms Act 1996. The Licensed Firearms Dealer guide is the result of consultation undertaken with staff at the Licensing & Regulation Division, Divisional Firearms Officers and Licensed Firearms Dealers. The material included is a guide only and should be read in conjunction with relevant legislation and industry standards. It is the responsibility of all Licensed Firearms Dealers to maintain current knowledge of legislation and their obligations. Victoria Police accepts no responsibility or liability for information provided or omitted, arising out of the use or reliance on any material contained in this guide.

Importation of Firearms – (B709)
Just a reminder that any new firearms (previously not imported or newly manufactured) are to be supported with evidence to assist with the creation of a validated firearm template, this includes, but not limited to technical information. Please ensure that you provide this information as part of the application process to minimize the delays to the process.

LFD Self Audit
LRD would like to take the opportunity to thank those LFD’s who have taken the opportunity to request for a current firearm stock list from LRD to undertake a self-audit. If you require a current stock list, please email LRD-FDTPermits-MGR@police.vic.gov.au