Can an unlicensed person handle a firearm ?

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  • Can an unlicensed person handle a firearm ?

    I need to have some minor work done on one of my pistols. I have a mate with a milling machine who can do the job for me but he does not have a firearms licence.

    My question is to whether it is legal for my mate to touch and hold the pistol to the extent necessary to mount in on the mill bed and perform the necessary work all the time whilst I am in attendance supervising.

    Like all things legal this seems confusing and comes down to the definition of possession and custodianship. Under NSW law it is an offence to possess a firearm if not licensed (or otherwise permitted eg: p650). The definition of possession includes:-
    • or in the care, control or management of, the person
    • has custody of the firearm,


    My argument at this stage would be that I remain in possession of the firearms by exerting control over it's use throughout the process. To my mind it would never by in the "custody of" my mate while ever I remained present.

    Has anybody else had on thoughts on similar scenarios ?

    Spoc

  • #2
    What sort of work are you having done? Can you take just the slide?

    There is also another issue and that is taking the handgun to a place that is not a range, gunshop, police station or gunsmith. I assume he is not a gunsmith.
    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing” - Edmund Burke

    Comment


    • spoc
      spoc commented
      Editing a comment
      Morgo,

      I just want to shave a little bit of the front sight of my revolver. I suppose I could remove it if necessary but I'm not sure if I would damage the locking pin in the process of removing it. Either way I think it's a good academic question. There must be a bunch of other legitimate reasons why non licensed persons may need to touch / handle a firearm. Off the top of my head:-
      • having rust removed
      • having your firearms painted / cerokoted but someone other than a gunsmith
      • having a carpenter / craftsman build a new stock who would need to check the fit
      • having and artist / artisan carve new ivory handles for my CM84e Free Pistol who once again would need to check the fit from time to time
      • having a custom case made to fit all my firearms
      • etc, etc,etc,.....


      Just to be clear I'm not talking about any use case that would involve actually discharging the firearm. Is any of this possible or are we in effect limited to a selection of tradesman / craftsman / providers of professional services who are also licensed firearms holders ?

      Spoc

  • #3
    another problem is to proform repairs on a gun don't you need to be a dealer?

    Comment


    • spoc
      spoc commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Rat man407" post=12025
      another problem is to proform repairs on a gun don't you need to be a dealer?
      Originally posted by Morgo" post=12019
      There is also another issue and that is taking the handgun to a place that is not a range, gunshop, police station or gunsmith. I assume he is not a gunsmith.
      Reading the legislation again there is explicit approval to take firearms to licensed dealers, gunsmiths, police and so on. The Act appears to be silent though in respect of provisions specifically disallowing possession for any listed reasons or indeed for reasons other than those listed. Instead it makes the more general statement that possession is allowed for reasons connected with the genuine reason.

      With this is mind, the additional question then appears to be is the reason for transporting/possessing the pistol connected to the genuine reason. If maintenance by a licensed gunsmith is explicitly permitted the it stands to reason that in the absence of any specific clause to the contrary that possession for the purposes of maintenance by an unlicensed person should therefore be implicitly permitted. This (I think) deals with issues of possessing/transporting the pistol to a place that is not a range, dealer, gunsmith, police leaving the original question as to whether an unlicensed person can touch the firearm whilst under the direct supervision of a licensed firearms holder.

      But hey what would I know Any lawyers on this forum ??

  • #4
    Just ring FAR or better still, email and get it in writing from the appropriate Dept. At least you have hardcopy to back it up if the answer is yes.

    Comment


    • #5
      I am certain that numerous handguns have undergone some minor work in all sorts of workshops over the years.

      But, in the unlikely event the NSW po-po should visit said workshop while your revolver was in the vice .... well ,,,, things are gonna get real interesting real fast.

      I am reasonably confident the FAR will advise you to take firearms only to a licenced dealer or armourer who has the appropriate gunsmithing skills.

      Comment


      • spoc
        spoc commented
        Editing a comment
        Originally posted by Stan 66" post=12105
        I am certain that numerous handguns have undergone some minor work in all sorts of workshops over the years.

        But, in the unlikely event the NSW po-po should visit said workshop while your revolver was in the vice .... well ,,,, things are gonna get real interesting real fast.

        I am reasonably confident the FAR will advise you to take firearms only to a licenced dealer or armourer who has the appropriate gunsmithing skills.
        Stan,

        the problem with this is that Government Departments don't give out legal advice and unfortunately I think this is what is required here. It would be a different story if you asked a question for which the legislation/regulations provide an unambiguous answer. eg: FAR could confidently answer the question as to whether I need to provide my registration papers when purchasing ammo for my handgun. When the legislation is ambiguous and open to interpretation then most Government departments will refrain from answering or err on the side of caution and in this case say that you can go to a dealer because that case is explicitly permitted. The problem of course is when your individual use case is not covered and you start to rely on interpretations of the law. FAR has an interpretation, I have an interpretation, the GD's cop on the street will also have an interpretation. Unfortunately I think the only opinion that counts is that of the Judge.

        Why is this so hard

    • #6
      I think it safe to say that individual licence holders are free to make a range of modifications without legal risk. This would include re-bluing, corrosion removal, replacement/modification of grips or sights, recrowning barrels, trigger lightening, replacement of springs etc. This is especially true when modifications have been made to meet the requirements of a target competition or are commonplace (e.g. installation of scope mounts on a sporterised SMLE).

      There is clearly gonna be trouble if you (or an unqualified mate) start shortening a barrel or conducting a calibre conversion. While these things can be done completely legally, the work should be conducted, supervised or at least checked by a licenced armourer or gunsmith who will submit the required paperwork to alter the firearm's registration certificate in accordance with your state's regulations.

      In short, just a small amount of commonsense needs to be applied. If you think a modification might be in a grey area, get a licenced smith to do the work.

      Comment


      • #7
        OK, this thread is a bit, right?

        You need a permit to handle a firearm?


        :S

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
          Editing a comment
          Originally posted by satchmo" post=12355
          OK, this thread is a bit, right?

          You need a permit to handle a firearm?


          :S

          Hey satchmo


          Well, yeah that's how it is here I'm afraid. As has been pointed out, you can't handle any firearm in a gunshop without possessing (and showing) the appropriate licence. If you only have a longarms licence for example (Cat A/B ) you may not handle any handgun (Cat H). The shop staff will ask to sight your licence before handing over any gun for you to examine.


          The points here about having work done etc seem to be a greyish area that I would be getting opinions from the respective State firearms registry.

      • #8
        Every body thinks WA has tough laws.
        How do you get on if you are looking for your first gun if you can't handle it in a gun shop?
        How about on a range can an unlicensed person under supervision shoot?
        How do you have junior and sub junior shooters if you have to hold a licence to handle a firearm?
        What age do you have to be to get a licence?


        .

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Guest commented
          Editing a comment
          Originally posted by Wato" post=12950
          Every body thinks WA has tough laws.
          How do you get on if you are looking for your first gun if you can't handle it in a gun shop?
          How about on a range can an unlicensed person under supervision shoot?
          How do you have junior and sub junior shooters if you have to hold a licence to handle a firearm?
          What age do you have to be to get a licence?


          .
          1. Maybe I'm missing something with your post mate, but you'd hardly be looking for your first gun unless you were licensed - ie able to handle one
          2. In INSW under the P650 system that specifically allows an unlicensed person to shoot on a range under supervision. Dunno what it is in WA
          3. (Again in NSW) you may hold a Minor's licence from age 12
          4. see above

        • Throwingbrick
          Throwingbrick commented
          Editing a comment
          12 for minors (can't own a firearm but can shoot one that they hold the appropriate licence for under supervision) 18 for full licence.

      • #9
        Originally posted by ex_reven" post=13152
        As soon as a firearm enters someone else's hand's they are in possession.
        Otherwise we would have no need for p650's for completing the firearms safety course as they are only 'handling' the firearm under your supervision to display competency with safe handling. Nor would there be a need for theatrical permits for actors to possess imitation firearms.
        Or not

        Interesting point you raise;
        The armourer has the permit/license and the actors have 'nothing'.
        This seems to suggest that the actors are not considered 'in possession' of the firearms they are handling.
        .

        Comment


        • #10
          OP is correct; his question has no answer. The government state firearms bodies and state police are obviously bound by the law. In general government departments and agencies err on the side of caution and we've all heard stories of the little man taking on the gubment (or a prosecutor) and winning. In situations where there is ambiguity and no common law, I'm not aware of any formal process to request clarification, other than pushing for the amended legislation which, in our case, is not an option. So, if there isn't any already, court precedent shall eventually rule, and if some poor bloke eventually gets done for taking his free pistol to a capable, insufficiently-licensed mate and has the nuts to take them on, best of luck to him! (The penalty is always harsh so it's a freeroll really.)

          Comment


          • #11
            Seems pretty black and white to me that if a person knowingly has custody (that is control) of a firearm without licence, that person (and the licenced person that gave it to them) are both committing an offence.
            I'd have to disagree. I think it depends very much on the circumstances. If I hand over the firearm to an unlicensed person and say here look after this for me for a few days then yes I think that is black and white illegal. If on the other hand I pass a firearm to an unlicensed person and say for example would you run your fingers over the length of the barrel and tell if you can feel any scratches, then I think those circumstances are not black and white. This is why the definition of possession and custody for that mater is important. To my (non legal trained) mind both those terms invoke a sense that the person physically holding the object must also be in a position invoke control and authority over the use of the object. This is something that I believe is absent when the original (licenced) owner / possessor is in the immediate presence of the unlicensed person.

            Anyway I don't want to loose my license any more than anyone else here so I'll just have to remove the sight to have it worked on.

            Comment


            • danny_h69
              danny_h69 commented
              Editing a comment
              In NSW...
              Firearms Act 1996 No 46
              possession of a firearm includes any case in which a person knowingly:
              (a) has custody of the firearm, or
              (b) has the firearm in the custody of another person, or
              (c) has the firearm in or on any premises, place, vehicle, vessel or
              aircraft, whether or not belonging to or occupied by the person.

              regarding the OP... if you hand over your legally owned firearm to person not authorised by the Act or Regs... you're both screwed...

              Hence the reason unlicenced persons cannot handle a firearm at a dealers even though there are probably a few licenced people in the store at the time.

              If you don't get caught... no one's the wiser... but if it comes to light, there goes your licence, firearms etc...

              Personally I don't think it's worth it.
              Cheers
              Dan
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