NEARLY every licensed shooter in Queensland is worried about Weapons Licensing’s changes to the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ guidelines.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there about this issue, be it from people repeating “Fudd Lore” (ie, stuff they heard from some random person at the range) to armchair Social Media Law-Talking Guys to people who have some unconventional ideas about how society and the legal system works.
David Neuendorf is one of the solicitors Shooters Union recommends for firearms-related matters in Queensland and has successfully represented a number of our members in QCAT matters relating to firearms issues.
As part of his support for law-abiding firearms users in Queensland, Mr Neuendorf has written this article explaining the facts around the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ guidelines and why Weapons Licensing are able to take into account historical offences or irrelevant information when deciding licence applications and renewals.
We’ve been very active in fighting the changes and demanding a fair go for shooters – and we know facts matter, which is why we’re grateful to Mr Neuendorf for putting this information together.
Please share this article with every Queensland shooter you know – and if you see someone posting incorrect information online, please link them to this article.
THE ‘FIT AND PROPER PERSON’ ASSESSMENT
David Neuendorf, Solicitor, Robert Bax & Associates
The Weapons Act 1990 (‘Act’) provides a framework for the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to use to determine whether an applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a weapons licence.
As a result of the recommendations in the 2020 Regulating Firearms Performance Audit Report issued by the Queensland Auditor’s Office, QPS have taken a more strict view on the fit and proper person assessment.
Many people who have a held a weapons licence without issue for years may be seeing their licences being revoked or renewal applications being rejected.
In this article, we clarify the factors that QPS take into account in the fit and proper person assessment.
Section 10B(2) - Mandatory Disqualification
There are certain circumstances listed in section 10B(2) of the Act which, if applicable, automatically deem an applicant not to be a fit and proper person.
That is, if within the last 5 years an applicant has been subject to a:
- Drug offence conviction;
- Weapons offence conviction;
- Conviction of an offence involving violence or the threatened use of violence;
- Domestic Violence Order; or
- Disqualification from holding a weapons licence in any other state or territory.
If any of these apply to you, QPS have no discretion to approve your licence. It must be rejected or revoked.
In relation to Items 1, 2 and 3 above, a conviction means a conviction being recorded. This means that if you were charged and punished for one of these offences but the Magistrate or Judge did not record a conviction, you will not be rejected under s 10B(2).
Section 10B(1) - Other Relevant Factors
Even if none of the circumstances in section 10B(2) apply, QPS still have the discretion to deem a person not to be a fit and proper person based on any the following factors under section 10B(1) of the Act:
Mental and physical fitness of the applicant
Domestic Violence orders, Police Protection notices or Release conditions made against the applicant under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012
False or misleading information provided on an application
Any criminal intelligence indicating the applicant is a risk to public safety or authorising the applicant to possess a weapon would be contrary to the public interest
The public interest.
These factors, especially Items 4 and 5 give QPS an extremely wide discretion to take almost anything into account and can include anything from your traffic history to an inspection by police even if it did not result in charges being laid.
For example, an applicant may have a recorded conviction in their criminal history for a drug offence from over 5 years ago or a drug offence within the last 5 years without a recorded conviction. QPS may still exercise their discretion to reject an application or revoke a licence due to offences like these on the basis of Items 4 or 5 above.
Appealing a Rejection or Revocation
Whilst QPS have a wide discretion under s 10B(1), this does not mean the discretion is always exercised appropriately.
If you believe QPS have not exercised their discretion appropriately, you can appeal to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
For a free initial consultation to discuss your prospects of success on appeal please contact Mr Neuendorf on (07) 3262 6122 or [email protected].