Storage requirements for firearms and ammunition
The safe storage and carriage of firearms and ammunition by firearm licence holders is a fundamental requirement of firearms regulation in Victoria and necessary to ensure that public safety and peace is preserved.
There are specific storage requirements for each category of firearm licence in Victoria. These are set out in Schedule 4 of the Firearms Act 1996 (the Firearms Act). These storage requirements must be met in order for an individual to possess a firearm:
Safekeeping of firearms and ammunition while being carried or used
There are specific legislative requirements for the safekeeping of firearms and cartridge ammunition while they are being carried or used.
Regardless of the type of firearm, Section 126 of the Firearms Act requires that a person carrying or using a firearm or cartridge ammunition must:
- ensure that the firearm/cartridge ammunition is carried or used in a manner that is secure and is not dangerous
- take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm/cartridge ammunition is not lost or stolen
Safekeeping of firearms when being transported in vehicles
While the guidelines are aimed at minimising risk, licence holders should consider all factors that may contribute to the firearms being transported in a manner that is not secure or in a way that presents a danger.
Police will treat each individual case on its merits and there may be circumstances where the guidelines are followed but criminal charges are still warranted if the overall security of firearms is compromised due to aggravated circumstances.
For example, if a firearm is securely stored in the boot of a car but the driver of the vehicle is driving the vehicle while intoxicated or speeding they might be considered to have compromised the security of the firearm. Additionally, circumstances such as this may indicate that the firearm owner may not really understand the responsibilities required for proper firearm ownership.
In most circumstances firearms should be transported in the following manner:
- firearms should be transported in a padded cover or hard case, unloaded and preferably rendered inoperable
- while being transported, firearms and ammunition should be kept out of sight and stored in separate receptacles that are either secured to the inside of your vehicle or in a lockable component of your vehicle
- cartridge ammunition should be stored separately from firearms in a part of the vehicle not readily accessible by an unauthorised person – a lockable glove box would suffice provided the key to the glove box is kept securely by the holder of the firearm licence and cannot be accessed by persons unauthorised to possess ammunition or firearms
Licence holders should exercise a common sense approach to storage when transporting their firearms and be mindful of all of their obligations.
This advice is a guide only and does not override storage requirements imposed by other regulatory frameworks. For example, there are storage requirements imposed under the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 when hunting in a deer habitat.
The Victorian Firearm Safety Foundation has further information and practical tips on its website regarding the safe and secure transportation of firearms, including by road, rail and/or air. See the Victorian Firearm Safety Foundation
General storage considerations
Licence holders are encouraged to take a 'common sense' approach and to be mindful of considerations over and above legislation to ensure firearms are not lost or stolen.
Ask yourself: is there anything more I can reasonably do to ensure my firearms are not lost or stolen?
In particular, care should be taken to avoid leaving firearms stored at unoccupied premises for extended durations, particularly in remote locations. Identifiers of the possible existence of firearms at a premise (such as firearm stickers on cars) should also be avoided.
The Firearms Act 1996 and Victoria Police place great emphasis on firearm safekeeping.
Penalties for failure to comply with these storage requirements range from 60 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment increasing up to 240 penalty units or four years' imprisonment depending on the category of firearm being carried and used.
Notification to Victoria Police of storage addresses
It is a legislative requirement that Victoria Police is advised of the physical storage location of each firearm possessed by a licence holder.
The notification of a storage address is a part of the licence or permit to acquire application process. Licence holders can elect to store their firearms in a single location or multiple locations, provided that each storage location complies with the storage requirements set out in legislation.
It is also a legislative requirement that the holder of a licence must notify Victoria Police in writing should the ordinary storage address of a firearm change. Notification must occur within 14 days.
It is a condition of all firearm licences that the holder of the licence must permit a member of police to inspect their storage arrangements at any reasonable time.
When you obtain a firearm for the first time, or, when your storage address changes, Divisional Firearm Officers or local police will conduct an inspection of your storage facilities to ensure that you are complying with your storage obligations. Random inspections may be carried out from time to time, with or without notice.
When conducting an inspection, police will also inspect the quantity and type of firearms stored as this determines the nature of the storage required. They will also verify the details of firearms stored at a location.
Frequently asked questions
Reviewed 20 February 2019