Five search warrants were executed in Sydney’s southwest last Friday morning resulting in the seizure of more than a dozen firearms and five hundred rounds of ammunition. Three young men aged between 26 and 30 years of aged were charged with over 70 criminal offences.
The weapons seized included multiple SKS rifles, a Taurus 9mm pistol, a .45 calibre handgun, a semiautomatic .22 calibre rifle with a silencer, a pump-action shotgun, a semiautomatic M1 carbine and a Beretta 9mm pistol.
Despite law enforcement being tipped-off about a person with extremist sympathies, none of the men, according to Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee, are facing terrorism charges. The offences are currently firearm-related offences, the participation in a criminal group or the contribution towards criminal activities. Given the charges and evidence seized, the three men were refused bail.
Section 7A(1) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) states that:
“A person must not possess or use a firearm unless the person is authorised to do so by a licence or permit. Maximum penalty—imprisonment for 5 years.”
Justice Hulme explained in the case of R v Najem :
“that [the] rationale [behind this section] includes at least a recognition that firearms and pistols, if possessed, are liable to be used, and if used, are liable to be a source of great danger or damage. It includes also a recognition that not all persons can be relied on to avoid or minimise such danger and not misuse the weapons and that misuse, even without discharge, is liable to amount to a great infringement of others rights”.
Section 50 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) states that:
“A person must not acquire a firearm unless the person is—
(a) authorised to possess the firearm by a licence or permit, and
(b) except in the case of a licensed firearms dealer, authorised to acquire the firearm by a permit (or the equivalent of any such permit that is issued under the law of another State or Territory in respect of the firearm concerned).
Maximum penalty—imprisonment for 14 years if the firearm concerned is a pistol or prohibited firearm, or imprisonment for 5 years in any other case.”