Low levels of violent crime through much of the 20th century kept levels of public concern about firearms low.

Gun laws were largely aligned in 1996 by the National Firearms Agreement.

A person who possesses or uses a firearm must have a firearm licence.

Four states require licences for antique percussion revolvers and cartridge repeating firearms, but in Queensland and Victoria a person may possess such a firearm without a licence, so long as the firearm is registered (percussion revolvers require a licence in Victoria).

From the landing of the First Fleet there was conflict with Aborigines over game, access to fenced land, and spearing of livestock.

Licence holders must be at least 18 years of age, have a "genuine reason" for holding a firearm licence Until 1996, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia had different gun laws.

For example, long guns were not registered in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania; owners of firearms were required to be licensed from 1988, and licences were introduced for long guns in Tasmania in 1991.From 1984 to 1996, multiple killings aroused public concern.The 1984 Milperra massacre was a major incident in a series of conflicts between various "outlaw motorcycle gangs".A number of punitive raids and massacres of Aboriginals were carried out in a series of local conflicts.The history of these conflicts is contentious (see History wars).Firearms were introduced to Australia with European settlement on 26 January 1788, though other seafarers that visited Australia before settlement also carried firearms.