Citation(s) from the literature library

Alpers, Philip. Eds: Antje Deckert and Rick Sarre. 2017 ‘Australian Gun Laws - Summary of APMC Resolutions.’ The Palgrave Handbook of Australian and New Zealand Criminology, Crime and Justice; Chapter 52, pp. 787-800. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 5 November

Relevant contents

[Prime Minister John] Howard arrived on 10 May 1996 at a decisive meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers' Council (APMC), holding most cards in the deck. The result became known as the National Firearms Agreement, or NFA (Australian Police Ministers' Council 1996) [revised 2017]


The wording of the NFA delivered no major surprise. Instead, the resolutions of that day's Special Firearms Meeting of the APMC enshrined a decade of recommendations to and from the National Committee on Violence established nearly ten years earlier, reinforced in whole or in part by each expert review, law reform commission, parliamentary committee report, and the Coalition for Gun Control either before or after. The stunning news of that day's announcement was simply that the NFA had been agreed by all parties. Every state and territory in Australia was now bound to reform its firearm legislation, some from the bottom up. In summary, the 1996 APMC Resolutions required that all jurisdictions:

1) Ban the sale, transfer, possession, manufacture, and importation of all automatic and most semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and their parts, including magazines. Only in exceptional circumstances might semi-automatic long guns be used by civilians in occupational categories licensed for a specified purpose, such as extermination of feral animals.
2) Ban competitive shooting involving the same firearms.
3) Immediately establish integrated licence and firearm registration systems to ensure nationwide compatibility, then link all databases through the National Exchange of Police Information (NEPI) to ensure effective nationwide registration of all firearms.
4) Exclude personal protection as a genuine reason for possessing or using a firearm.
5) Prohibit private gun sales, with all transfers to be processed by licensed firearm dealers.
6) Require all applicants for a firearm licence to show one or more genuine reasons for owning, possessing, or using each gun. Examples of a genuine reason include regular attendance at an approved gun club, practising mainstream shooting disciplines such as those seen at Commonwealth and Olympic Games; proof of permission from a landowner for recreational shooting or hunting; proof of occupation as a primary producer, security employee, or professional shooter; established, bona fide collection of lawful firearms with historical interest; or limited, authorised purposes such as using firearms in film production.
7) Over and above the genuine reason test, applicants for a licence to possess firearms in categories deemed to pose additional risk were also obliged to demonstrate a genuine need for that particular type of gun. For example, for a purpose not achievable by other means, a primary producer may be licensed to possess a single, limited-magazine-size semi-automatic rifle or a pump-action shotgun, possibly with restrictions on its place of use.
8) A person judged to be a bona fide collector may be licensed to keep inoperable, non-prohibited post-WWII firearms without live ammunition, and fireable guns manufactured before 1946.
9) The NFA also stipulated a minimum firearm licensing age of 18; required a "fit and proper person" test decided by police; proof of identity; accredited, nationally uniform safety training; a photographic licence limiting its owner to certain firearm categories and ammunition; a minimum 28-day waiting period for licensing or firearm acquisition; and a maximum licence period of five years.
10) Each licence applicant has to comply with safe storage requirements by keeping firearms and ammunition in separate fixed, locked receptacles; submits to the inspection of storage by authorities, and is subject to immediate withdrawal of licence and confiscation of firearms for failure to comply.
11) A firearm licence may also be refused or cancelled following a conviction involving violence; an apprehended violence, domestic violence, or restraining order; reliable evidence of mental or physical unsuitability to possess a firearm; and for not notifying a change of address.

[Editor's note: In February 2017, the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council of the Attorney-General's Department of Australia agreed to an updated National Firearms Agreement (NFA). This amalgamates the 1996 NFA and the 2002 National Handgun Agreement into a single point of reference for firearm regulation in Australia. The updated NFA (2017) reinforces the previous agreements without substantial change.]

ID: Q13253

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