Fail to Store Category A or B Longarm Correctly

Fail to Store Category A or B Longarm Correctly

Under Schedule 4 of the Firearms Act 1996 (‘the Act’), category A and B longarms must be kept in a locked container made of either hardwood or steel. The container must be securely attached to a building unless it weighs more the 150 kilograms. An alternative manner can be adopted if it is approved by the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police.

Storing a category A or B longarm contrary to the above is in breach of section 121(1) of the Act.
As a summary offence, any summons for this charge will primarily be handled by the Magistrates’ Court.
Elements of the offence
The prosecution must prove the following two elements:

  • The accused possessed a category A or B longarm; and
  • The longarm was not stored in the manner provided for in item 1 of Schedule 4 of the Act.
Item 1 of Schedule 4 of the Firearms Act 1996
  1. The firearm must be stored in a receptacle—
    1. which is constructed of hard wood or steel that is not easily penetrable; and
    2. which, if it weighs less than 150 kilograms when it is empty, must be fixed to the frame of the floor or the wall of the premises where the firearm is kept in such a manner that it is not easily removable; and
    3. which, when any firearm is stored in it, is locked with a lock of sturdy construction.
Examples of Fail to Store Category A or B Longarm Correctly
  • Storing a gun in an unlocked locker;
  • Leaving a gun on a bench;
  • The gun locker is not secured to the building for example with bolts.
The legislation for this offence can be found on section 121(1) of the Firearms Act 1996.
Criminal defences that are available are honest and reasonable mistake of belief, necessity, sudden or extraordinary emergency and incorrect factual matrix. We defended one on the basis that the Police were making an incorrect assessment of the weight which resulted in a withdrawal of charges.

The decision on whether to plead guilty or not guilty to this charge can best be made only after a careful analysis of the facts of your case. Contact a criminal lawyer to assess the merits of your case.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was the firearm stored properly?
  • Do you have a reason for not storing the firearm properly?
  • Do you have photographs of the storage unit?

The offence of Fail to Store Category A or B Longarm Correctly (s121(1) of the Firearms Act 1996) carries a fine of 60 penalty units (around $9,500) or 12 months imprisonment as the highest possible sentence.

Sentencing in the higher courts
There were 10 charges of Fail to Store Category A or B Longarm Correctly that were handled by the higher courts of Victoria from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016. Of these 10 charges, 6 led to financial penalties (60%), 2 to imprisonment (20%), and 2 to Community Correction Orders (20%).1

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts
In the Magistrates’ Courts, a total of 368 cases (558 charges) were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. Majority of these cases also resulted in financial penalties (48.1%) but many other forms of sentencing were also imposed:

  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 29.4%
  • Community Correction Order – 14.4%
  • Imprisonment – 4.4%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 2.7%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 0.5%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.3%
  • Other – 0.3%
The highest amount of fine imposed was between $5,000 and $10,000 but this was least imposed among those who were fined (only 2.3% for aggregate). The majority received a fine somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 (for aggregate) and $500 and $1,000 for non-aggregate, which are 39.5% and 5.6% respectively of those who were fined.

Of the prison terms imposed, the longest was between 6 and 12 months but this was least imposed at 25.0%. The majority of those who were sentenced to prison were given a term of less than 3 months (43.8%).2

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.3

[1] SACStat Higher Courts – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 121(1) – fail to store category A or B longarm correctly < >
[2] SAC Statistics – Firearms Act 1996 (Vic) : s 121(1) – fail to store category A or B longarm correctly < >
[3] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < >