A triggerless air rifle has left Gympie Magistrate Chris Callaghan questioning at what point a firearm ceases being one.
A triggerless air rifle has left Gympie Magistrate Chris Callaghan questioning at what point a firearm ceases being one. Contributed

Court asks: when is a gun not a gun?

WHEN is a firearm not a firearm?

It is a question that has plagued a Gympie court for more than three months and ended this week with a Widgee man being "absolutely discharged" with no conviction by Magistrate Chris Callaghan.

Jeremy Darin Waddle was brought before the courts on April 1, after he was busted with an air rifle with a wooden handle and no trigger, and with no certificate for it.

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The case was adjourned by Mr Callaghan, who was "concerned it might not be a weapon".

When it was back before the court on Monday, Mr Callaghan again queried the case.

 

Chris Callaghan the new magistrate in Gympie.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan. Renee Albrecht

"It's got no trigger," he said.

"How's he going to get a certificate?

"That's ridiculous."

Mr Callaghan questioned the laws that required a citizen to have documentation for a weapon that could not work and was in police possession.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Lisa Manns said under the law it was up to Waddle "to take it to a dealer and get them to sign off on it as inoperable" when he first bought it.

After a brief dive into legislation - including an investigation into what constitutes a firearm under the law - Mr Callaghan conceded the rifle might be triggerless and "inoperable... but perhaps not permanently".

 

gavel, court, generic
Gympie court. File

However, he said there was "no sense in inflicting further punishment" on Waddle as his required court appearances had already taken considerable time out of his life.

He accepted Waddle's guilty pleas to charges for unlawful possession of a weapon and failing to appear at a subsequent court date.

He then discharged Waddle and ordered the triggerless air rifle be forfeited to police.