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Classification of firearms and related items

Release date: Fri 30 December 2011

Last updated: Fri 21 March 2014

Legislation

Firearms and imitation firearms are regulated in Victoria under the Firearms Act 1996 and Control of Weapons Act 1990 respectively.

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 these devices and the necessary regulatory requirements relevant to each (e.g. registration, licence, approval requirements etc.).

If your device is a firearm and requires that you have a licence under the Firearms Act 1996, you can proceed to the apply for firearms licence section. Alternatively, if your device is an imitation under the Control of Weapons Act 1990, you can proceed to the Chief Commissioner's Approval section. 

Firearm re-classification

Amendments made in 2008 to the Firearms Act 1996 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 1996 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); and
  • 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.

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.

Determinations

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:

 
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