The recent adoption of the National Firearms Agreement between the Federal and State governments and a decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, (QCAT) have led to changes in the licensing regime for handguns.

Previously, handgun licences could be held by primary producers if the use of the handgun was a necessary “occupational requirement” and a “genuine need” existed for the use of the handgun on a rural property. These requirements were able to be met by farmers and graziers on the basis that handguns were a safer option than rifles when destroying livestock and feral animals in certain situations, such as within a crush or a trap.

The new National Firearms Agreement requires that a handgun licence holder prove that the same “occupational requirement” exists and also that the “genuine need” cannot be met by other means (such as by the usual rifle licencing classes). This test requires licence holders to prove to the Queensland Police Service that the scale of the rural operation and previous use of the handgun warrant their licence to be renewed.

In addition to this policy change, a decision of QCAT known as Feeney (2017) highlights the extent to which part-time or casual employment in a rural enterprise will affect the ability to hold a handgun licence. In that case, QCAT refused the renewal of a handgun licence held for 20 years on the basis that the holder’s less-than-full-time business of agisting livestock and destroying feral pests on adjoining properties were not adequate “occupational requirements”.

A number of handgun licence holders are now reporting that their licences are not being renewed by the Queensland Police Service on the same basis. We expect that there will be any number of appeals to QCAT as the renewal process continues and Thynne + Macartney’s Agribusiness lawyers are able to assist with these issues.

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

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