Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville today introduced legislation to create new Firearms Prohibition Orders, giving police new powers to prevent people who may pose a threat to public safety from accessing firearms.
Victoria Police will be armed with strong new powers to target and search individuals from outlaw motorcycle gangs and serious criminal organisations – including those who associate with organised crime figures.
The Firearms Amendment Bill 2017 also creates a new drive-by shooting offence, with up to 15 years for shooting at a premises or vehicle with reckless disregard for someone’s safety.
“The legislation contains a number of key features. This is not targeted to our legal registered gun owners, our farmers who use them for pest management or sporting shooters, this is about targeting people who we don’t want to have carrying guns," Ms Neville said.
Firearm Prohibition Orders can be issued by the Chief Commissioner or other senior police, and are aimed at people who may pose a danger to the community but can’t be banned from accessing firearms under existing laws due to a clean criminal record.
Police will be able to use new warrantless search powers to search anyone subject to a Firearm Prohibition Order, as well as their premises or vehicle.
Anyone in the company of a Firearm Prohibition Order subject can also be searched, if police reasonably suspect they are in possession of a firearm, ammunition or related items.
If a drive-by shooting happens while someone is carrying out a serious indictable offence, the penalty has been increased to up to 20 years.
Breaching a Firearm Prohibition Order by acquiring, possessing, carrying or using a firearm, ammunition or related items will carry a maximum prison term of 10 years. A FPO subject will also be banned from visiting firearms business premises, clubs and ranges, with a breach carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of one year.
The legislation also makes amendments to improve the operation of recreational firearm licensing and regulation in Victoria, to streamline the process for those who use firearms legally.
“The introduction of Firearm Prohibition Orders will revolutionise how we tackle organised crime and the possession and movement of illegal guns within our state," Ms Neville said.
Field & Game Australia endorses actions that focus enforcement on illegal firearms and criminals.