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Shooting in Australia is controlled by a series of State Acts of Parliament. Despite efforts by the Howard Government to get uniform firearm laws in all States there are still many variations.
In NSW, shooting is controlled by the Firearms Act 1996 (Current version for 1 November 2017) and Firearms Regulations 2017 (Current version for 25 August 2017). The Firearms Act and Regulations are administered by the NSW Firearms Registry whose services include Range approval, Firearms Licence issuing (and withdrawl) and keeping records of registered firearms held by licenced shooters in NSW.
The Firearms Registry has an excellent website and new shooters are urged to visit and use this resource.
A fact sheet titled ‘Information on obtaining a Firearms Licence in NSW’ is a good starting point. There are three fundamental steps involved in obtaining a firearm (rifle). They are:
Firstly the shooter must posses a Firearms Licence; next
- Firearm Licence holder must have an approved Safe installed for storage of their firearms. It is recommended to have your installation inspected by the local Licencing Sergeant to remove any legal liability about installation compliance; and finally
A ‘Permit to Acquire a Longarm’ application is required when purchasing each firearm. When processed and returned to the applicant, this Permit can be considered as your ‘legal authority to purchase’ that category of firearm.
‘Permit to Acquire a Longarm’ applications are now lodged online via Services NSW website: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/services/legal-and-police-services/firearms-licence.
The main requirements to be met when obtaining an individual Licence in NSW are:
you must be a NSW Resident;
you must be 18 years old or over (minors can use a rifle if issued with a minors permit, but are not permitted to own one);
completion of a firearms safety and training course (details of suitable training courses can be obtained through BRAA);
confirmation that you are able to meet the safe storage requirements of the rifle and ammunition you buy;
You must be a fit and proper person to be trusted with a rifle without presenting a danger to public safety.
You cannot, for example, get a Licence if you have had a criminal conviction within 10 years or if you are subject to an AVO or good behaviour bond.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, you must be able to prove that you have a genuine reason for possessing a firearm.
Membership of the Buffalo Rifle Association is a genuine reason, providing you keep up the prescribed number of uses per year.
In order to join BRAA you must also be a Member of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) to ensure that you are insured when you shoot.
Having attained a licence, the next step is to buy a rifle. Once you have found the one you want, application is made to the Firearms Registry for a Permit to Acquire.
There is a 28 day Cooling Off Period with your first rifle but not for subsequent ones. All rifle purchases must go through a Licensed Dealer so your purchase will need to be delivered to the Dealer of your choice who will transfer it into your name.
Again the Buffalo Rifle Association of Australia can advise on the selection of a suitable dealer. Once your rifle is delivered then it is a matter of loading your ammunition and attending the Ranges and learning to use it safely and well.