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Obligation to report unsafe situations associated with firearms

Medical practitioners have certain reporting obligations under the South Australian Firearms Act (1977).

If you have reasonable cause to suspect that someone you have seen in a professional capacity who has a firearm or may be intending to acquire one, and who is suffering from a physical or mental illness or condition, or that other circumstances exist, such that there is a threat to the person's own safety or the safety of another associated with the person's possession or use of a firearm, you must make a report to the Registrar (South Australian Firearms Act 1977).

There is also a requirement to report wounds inflicted by a firearm (if you have reasonable cause to suspect they have been so inflicted). A copy of the 'Medical Notification to registrar of Firearms (PD486A) form is available from SA Police's website here.

A number of persons may hold firearms licenses. Purposes endorsed under the law in SA include use as a member of a recognised firearms club; target shooting; hunting; paint-ball shooting; use in relation to carrying on the business of primary production or in the course of such employment; use in the course of carrying on the business of guarding property or use in guarding property in the course of such employment.

Police officers are also likely to be issued a firearm in the course of their duties, or to be able to acquire a firearm: this should be borne in mind by medical practitioners who are treating police officers.

Pasted below is an extract from the Act (correct as of 11/2/2014). To view the Firearms Act and Regulations in full, click here.

In addition to the below, the Firearms Act further details that prescribed health professionals must make a report to the Registrar of Firearms, as soon as practicable after the suspicion is formed relating to their obligations under the Firearms Act, and this report is to be made on a 'Medical Notification to Registrar of Firearms' (PD486A) form.

27A—Obligation to report unsafe situations associated with firearms

(1) If a medical practitioner, or other person prescribed for the purposes of this subsection, has reasonable cause to suspect in relation to a person whom he or she has seen in his or her professional capacity—

(a) that the person is suffering from a physical or mental illness or condition, or that other circumstances exist, such that there is a threat to the person's own safety or the safety of another associated with the person's possession or use of a firearm; and

(b) that the person has, or might be intending to acquire, a firearm, the medical practitioner or other prescribed person must make a report to the Registrar under this section.

(2) If an employer has reasonable cause to suspect in relation to an employee whose work with the employer involves the possession or use of a firearm that the employee is suffering from a physical or mental illness or condition, or that other circumstances exist, such that there is a threat to the employee's own safety or the safety of another associated with the employee's possession or use of a firearm, the employer must make a report to the Registrar under this section.

(3) A report under this section—

(a) must be made as soon as practicable after the suspicion is formed; and

(b) must include—

(i) the name and address of the person the subject of the suspicion; and
(ii) the suspected threat to safety and circumstances giving rise to the threat (including the nature of any physical or mental illness or condition contributing to the threat).

(4) A person incurs no civil or criminal liability in taking action in good faith in compliance, or purported compliance, with this section.

27B—Obligations of medical practitioners etc relating to wounds inflicted by firearm

(1) If a medical practitioner, or other person prescribed for the purposes of this subsection, has reasonable cause to suspect in relation to a person whom he or she has seen in his or her professional capacity that the person is suffering from a wound
inflicted by a firearm, the medical practitioner, or other prescribed person, must make a report to the Registrar under this section.

(2) A report under this section—

(a) must be made as soon as practicable after the suspicion is formed; and

(b) must include—

(i) the name and address of the person the subject of the suspicion or, if the name and address are not known, a description of the person; and
(ii) details of the wound; and
(iii) any information provided to the practitioner or other person about the
circumstances leading to the infliction of the wound.

(3) If a medical practitioner, or other person prescribed for the purposes of this subsection, treats a person for a wound that the practitioner or person has reasonable cause to suspect was inflicted by a firearm, the practitioner or person must take
reasonable steps to retain any ammunition or fragment of ammunition recovered from the wound until it can be collected by a police officer.

(4) A person incurs no civil or criminal liability in taking action in good faith in
compliance, or purported compliance, with this section.

12 February 2014