FAQs - Weapons
Q: What changes have been made to South Australian Weapons Laws?
The law has been changed to prohibit manufacture, dealing in and possession of certain weapons called prohibited weapons.
These laws are not about firearms: they are about other weapons.
The law revised and strengthened old laws about having weapons.
Q: Why have the laws been changed?
To make our community safer by reducing the number of things in the community that are designed to be used as weapons to kill or injure people and which are easily concealed and carried.
Q: How will the laws make our community safer?
The new laws make it an offence for a person to have prohibited weapons, unless he or she is exempted in special and limited circumstances. Police may confiscate these weapons and charge people who have them. The law allows Police to act before the weapon has been used against anyone.
Some exemptions require these weapons to be kept in a safe and secure manner.
Q: Who has initiated these laws?
There has been a demand from members of the community and the police all over Australia to restrict possession of weapons, particularly the types of weapons in our new laws.
The South Australian Government and most other State and Territory Governments decided that their laws about possession of weapons should be made tougher. The South Australian Attorney - General has been responsible for developing South Australian laws in close consultation with the Police. The laws were supported by all parties in the South Australian Parliament.
Q: Will the police be given more powers to enforce the laws?
No. The police already have the authority and powers to enforce the laws.
Q: Will the police take action against people for having a fishing knife or one of the many tools that people use for work and recreation?
The short answer is no, unless they are carrying it offensively or without lawful excuse.
Very few things that people need for fishing or as tools are prohibited weapons. For example, if a person is carrying a screwdriver, hammer or a fishing knife offensively, or without lawful excuse, then the police can take action. For example, it is highly unlikely that a person would have a lawful excuse for having a fishing knife in a nightclub at 2 am. This has been the law for a very long time. It has not caused problems for law abiding citizens who have fishing knives and other things that they reasonably require for their work or recreation.
The very few people who genuinely need something that is a prohibited weapon for their work or lawful recreation should make enquiries about whether their possession is exempted by the Act or Regulations and, if necessary, apply for an exemption.
Q: What does "carrying a weapon offensively or without lawful excuse mean?"
Anything can be an offensive weapon if it is carried with the intention of hurting someone or if it is being carried in a threatening way. This is what is meant by carrying something offensively. So a bottle, screwdriver, baseball bat, garden stake or even a pen can be treated as an offensive weapon in some circumstances.
Q: Do the laws add more regulation to ownership and use of guns and knives?
The laws in relations to weapons are not about guns unless a gun is carried offensively or without reasonable excuse.
There will be no new restrictions on ownership of most knives - only on certain types of knives that are declared by the Regulations to be prohibited weapons. These are knives that are designed as weapons to be used against other people and which are easy to conceal and carry.
The limited groups of people who are permitted to have a prohibited weapon may have to comply with some conditions that are designed to protect public safety, and will have to keep it in a safe and secure manner.
Q: Do people who have prohibited weapons have to store them in locked cabinets?
There is no law that says every prohibited weapon must be kept in a locked cabinet. People who have prohibited weapons will have to work out what is safe and secure in their own circumstances. As a matter of practice and common prudence, people like shopkeepers and museums who display these items to the public will need to keep them in a secure or locked situation.
Q: How can people bring themselves within the law?
It is the responsibility of each individual person to find out whether the article that they own is a prohibited weapon.
If you do have a prohibited weapon:
If you apply for exemption:
Q: How can a person confirm the status of an object and whether he/she is exempt?
If you are in any doubt, you can call the Weapons Hot Line on 7322 3346 or take the object to a police station for advice. The Police will tell you whether it is prohibited and, when you tell them why you have it, whether you are exempted. Some people may wish to consult their lawyer.
Q: What are prohibited weapons?
These weapons are prohibited weapons:
Full written descriptions of these weapons are set out in schedule 2 of the Summary Offences (Dangerous Articles and Prohibited Weapons) Regulations 2000.
Illustrations of some of these weapons are in brochures available from the Police and Attorney-General's Department and in Council offices and public libraries.
These items are dangerous articles:
Full written descriptions of these items are set out in Schedule 1 of the Summary Offences (Dangerous Articles and Prohibited Weapons) Regulations 2000.
Q: How will people who make prohibited weapons and people who deal in prohibited weapons be affected?
People who make prohibited weapons, whether commercially or as a hobby, and people who deal in any prohibited weapons need to make sure they are exempted before continuing to do so. If they are not exempted by the Regulations, they will need to apply for a special exemption. They should also obtain information about the conditions with which exempt people need to comply.
People who make or deal in prohibited weapons need to know that the law does not exempt them if they:
Such people will need to apply to the Police for a special exemption if they want to make or deal in prohibited weapons. The Police will look at the circumstances of each case.
Manufacturers, including people who make prohibited weapons as a hobby or craft, must notify the Police and provide up-to-date details of whom they are and where they are. This includes companies and company directors. They must also keep some records.
Makers must put an identifying mark on every item made.
Exempted manufacturers may sell or otherwise supply a prohibited weapon only to adults who are permitted by the law to have one (eg to people who are exempt.) They may not supply a prohibited weapon to anyone who is under the age of 18 years.
Q: What are the penalties for prohibited weapons offences?
Some examples are:
There are other penalties for offences relating to firearms. Also, a person who has an article with intent to use it, or to let someone else use it, to either kill or harm another person, commits a very serious offence and can be sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment. If a person uses a weapon in committing a crime of violence, tough penalties apply.
For any of these offences, the Court will usually also order that the weapon be forfeited. It will then be destroyed.
Q: What kind of people might be exempt from the new prohibited weapons offences?
People who have a prohibited weapon will need to find out more than this. You should not rely on what your friends tell you about this. You should make your own enquiries and make certain for yourself.
It is important that people know that exemptions do not allow them to have a prohibited weapon anywhere they like or to use it for whatever purpose they like. Exemptions are designed to allow those people who have a genuine purpose for having a prohibited weapon to have it for that purpose only. For example, people who are allowed to have a prohibited weapon because they reasonably require it for work or recreation or sport will not be exempt from criminal liability if they have it with them in other circumstances, such as taking it into a night club, hotel or to a party. Collectors will be exempt only for as long as they comply with conditions.
Exempt persons include those who reasonably require prohibited weapons:
Subject to compliance with conditions set out in the Regulations:
Manufacturers, including people who make prohibited weapons as a craft or hobby, and persons dealing in prohibited weapons may do so under strict conditions.
For further information on the weapons Regulations and exemptions, contact:
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