Firearms and imitation firearms are regulated under the Firearms Act 1996 and Control of Weapons Act 1990 respectively in the State of Victoria. There are numerous types and categories of devices that have been manufactured that either has the functionality of a firearm or has the appearance of a firearm that is considered under existing laws. Your licensing, registration and storage requirements in Victoria will vary depending on considerations such as the year of manufacture, size, power, appearance and method of operation of the device.
As the regulators of the law in this area, Victoria Police's Licensing & Regulation Division has published a 'What is a firearm?' chart. This chart will assist you to identify the key differences between a device that needs to be registered under the Firearms Act, a device that requires an Approval of the Chief Commissioner or Exemption as a prohibited weapon under the Control of Weapons Act, a firearm that is exempt from regulation or other devices are not deemed to be firearms and therefore do not require an authority from Victoria Police.
If your device requires registration under the Firearms Act, you can proceed to apply for firearms licence in the State of Victoria to identify the appropriate category of firearm and the relevant licence and purpose to lawfully possess the firearm. Alternatively you may need to apply for an Approval of the Chief Commissioner if the device is an imitation firearm (and therefore a prohibited weapon).
Amendments to the Firearms Act in 2008 gave the Chief Commissioner of Police limited powers to re-classify firearms. As the Chief Commissioner's delegate, the Superintendent of LRD may re-classify firearms that are ordinarily a category A, B or C longarm into a category D or E longarm. These may happen when a firearm has been designed or adapted for military purposes or substantially duplicates a 'militaristic-type' firearm in design, function or appearance.
LRD's superintendent is assisted by the Classification Review Committee when reviewing the classification of a firearm. The Committee also advises the Superintendent on the need to regulate other items not covered by the Firearms Act and is made up of:
- a person with no expertise with regards to firearms
- an operational member of police
- two people with extensive technical expertise (one of which is independent of LRD)
- a person with extensive knowledge of import permits
The following firearms have been re-classified:
Differentiating between an imitation firearm, replica firearms and other firearm paraphernalia and toys
There are a wide variety of firearm-themed items available on the market aimed at children or firearm enthusiasts. Depending on the overall appearance and function of these items, some may be classified as a registrable firearm, a replica firearm or an imitation firearm. These require an authority to possess, carry or sell in the State of Victoria regardless of the intent of the manufacturer.
The information contained within this page and downloadable Quick Guide to Imitation, Toy & Other firearm paraphernalia has been published to assist you to recognise the distinguishing characteristics of an imitation firearm as opposed to a toy or other firearm paraphernalia to assist you to comply with Victorian laws in this area.
Generally, if an item cannot be mistaken for a working firearm by a reasonable person and does not have the function of a firearm, it will be treated as a toy firearm or other firearm-themed paraphernalia and can be owned without a licence or other authority.
However, items that have the appearance of a working firearm, even where they do not function as one, are classified as imitation firearms. As imitation firearms can cause public alarm, only people with a Chief Commissioner's Weapons Approval or Governor in Council Exemption can possess, carry or offer them for sale in the State of Victoria.
LRD has made determinations with regards to some of the more readily available devices available for sale in the community. For advice regarding these devices, click here.
Replica firearms are not the same as imitation firearms. They are working copies of an original firearm and anyone in possession of a replica must register it and be the holder of the appropriate firearms licence.
If you are still uncertain about whether a "toy" fits into the definition of an imitation firearm or firearm based on the above guidelines, LRD recommends that you seek independent legal advice.
From time to time, LRD receives queries regarding the status of certain devices that are readily available for sale in the community. In these situations, LRD uses the Firearms Act 1996 and the Control of Weapons Act 1990 as a point of reference to make a determination regarding the regulation of the item to ensure that a consistent approach is taken in the community.
LRD has made determinations regarding the following items: