In NSW there are two types of punishable offenses relating to possession and use of a firearm. The lower offense is found under Section 7A of the Firearms Act 1996 which punishes a person with imprisonment of 5 years for possessing or using a firearm without a license or permit.
The higher offense is under Section 7(1) of the same law which provides that a person who possesses or uses a prohibited firearm or pistol without a license or permit can be liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
An inspection of the two sections will show that the difference lies on the type of firearm that is being possessed or used by the offender. Section 7A pertains to an ordinary firearm whereas Section 7(1) refers to a prohibited firearm or pistol. A prohibited firearm is described under Section 1 while the definitions of pistol and prohibited pistol are found in Section 4 and 4C.
To convict a person whether under Section 7(1) or 7(A) the police must prove that the person they arrested or charged was the same person who was in possession or use of the firearm and that he had no license or permit to do so.
The penalties for both offences are quite heavy. This is because the Australian legislature aims to deter and punish the act of possessing and using firearms without license or permit. Courts hearing these cases will not really look into the reasons of the offender or whether such firearm is intended to be used for the commission of another crime.
These factors are only important in determining the sentence to be imposed on the accused. The rationale of the law is that if a firearm is possessed by a person he is liable to use it which is seen as a potential threat to the safety of the community and this is what the law seeks to prevent.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.