AVO's and Your Firearms - The Loose Cannon

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My wife recently took out an AVO against me, and my solicitor told me to consent to it, and that it will not effect my gun licence providing that I write to the Registry. What do you think I need to say to them?

I have to state that anyone who is violent against women or anyone else for that matter, deserves everything that they get, but that I have serious problems with the way that this legislation is being used maliciously as a sword, rather than a shield, by a minority of applicants.

Secondly, many of the incidents giving rise to AVO’s are very low level, and are not what you or I would consider domestic violence.  Many are little more than heated arguments.

You have received very bad advice.  Sadly, I often hear such comments made, as many Solicitors do not understand the implications of this law for firearms owners, and think that the AVO will not impact upon an individual unless they breach it.

There is no point writing to the Firearms Registry once an AVO order is made, because, subject to the law in the State or Territory that you reside in, Police are unable to issue a Firearms Licence to you for five or ten years after the order has expired!

Apprehended Violence Order or Domestic Violence Orders are orders that enables a person to be arrested if they are found to be engaging in certain behaviour toward, or in the proximity of the person who is considered to be in need of protection (‘the PINOP’).

This order may be sought from the Police, in which case, they may apply to the Court for an order on the PINOP’s behalf, or by the PINOP themselves.  Where Police seek the order, they have the power to make an interim order which does not become final until the matter has been before the Court.

The value to Police of an AVO is that it enables a person to be arrested for being in the proximity of a person, and therefore, if someone is in the vicinity of the victim’s home, Police do not have to wait for the victim to be assaulted before they can do something.

Having said this, if someone has got a serious intent to do someone harm, a piece of paper is not going to do any good.

While most Apprehended Violence Orders are sought for good reason, most experienced Family Lawyers will honestly admit that a significant percentage- that in my experience is as high as 20%, are maliciously motivated, and intended to:

  •          Improve a parties position in Family law proceedings involving Children
  •          Get a party out of the home
  •          Rubbish the other party’s reputation
  •          Vent anger
  •          Disrupt the other party’s social activities by denying access to firearms

Sadly, few Police will listen to a husband if he advises them that he is being abused or stalked, indeed, I have known Police laugh at husband’s in situations where they have been physically and emotionally abused, and if you do go to the Police, they are likely to take your firearms off you for at least 28 days until things ‘cool down’.

The situation is so anti male / anti shooter, that I was once approached by a shooter whose wife had threatened to ‘get an AVO and make him loose his guns’.  I suggested he lodge his guns with a dealer while his wife was at work and lock the receipt in the safe. 

A few weeks later, about 9 coppers arrived Police arrived, hand cuffed him and demanded the keys to his gun safe.  Apparently, his wife had called Police and claimed she had been assaulted with a firearm. 

Police opened the safe and found the receipt, they also failed to find any other firearms when they searched the property. 

Police declined to charge her with an offence!

Nor when an AVO is found to be groundless, can you obtain costs against the other side.

The best advice that I can give is that, if someone is facing an AVO:

Try and avoid having a permanent order made.  In some jurisdictions Police will agree to an undertaking to the Court instead of an AVO, and this will have the same effect your Firearms Licence.

It can be worth your while in some situations consenting to an AVO ‘without admissions’, this means you are not admitting the alleged facts recounted in the Court documents. 

Then, after you have sorted out your Family Law matter, bring an application to have the AVO set aside.  You may need to ask the Court to extend the AVO to make sure that it does not expire before such a hearing into the matter takes place.

Thanks to the good work of the Shooters and Fisher’s Party some years ago, an amendment was placed into the NSW legislation enabling an expired AVO to be considered and revoked by the Court as though it was on foot.

Unfortunately, new domestic violence legislation has been introduced that merely states that an application for an order in respect to the revocation of an AVO can be made at any time.

Unfortunately, this injects uncertainty, in that, does ‘any time’ mean any time? or does it mean ‘any time while the AVO is current’?

Given that, technically, once an AVO has expired, there is really nothing on foot to review, I suspect many busy Magistrates shall favour the latter view, injecting a need for the expense of a District Court appeals to settle this area.

These amendments have yet to come into force, I would suggest anyone effected by a NSW AVO to consider getting an application before the Court to revoke the AVO ASAP.

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