The law relating to firearms
Definition of a ‘firearm’
Firearms legislation covers more than just the pistols, rifles or sawn off shotguns. A firearm can be a ‘lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be can be discharged’, any prohibited weapon, any component part of such a lethal or prohibited weapon and any accessory to any such weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon. In practice this can mean a wide range of items, including stun guns and CS sprays.
The ‘lethality’ of a weapon is relatively complex, with a court ultimately determining if the weapon should be categorised as ‘lethal’.
Types of firearms offences
The following are examples of particular firearms cases which may pursued by the CPS:
- Possession of a firearm without a certificate
- Possession of a shotgun without a certificate
- Possession of a prohibited weapon
- Possession of ammunition
- Possession of a firearm/ammunition with the intent to endanger life
- Possession of imitation firearms
- Possession of a stun gun or CS spray
- Shortening shotgun to a length less than 60.96cm
- Conversion into a firearm anything which had the appearance of being a firearm that was originally incapable of discharging any missile through its barrel
- Importation of firearms/ammunition
Sentencing for firearms offences
Sentencing for firearms offences can vary from a fine through to a custodial sentence. However, the purchase, acquisition, manufacture, selling or transfer of certain prohibited weapons can result in a mandatory minimum custodial sentence.
R v R - This case involved a client in possession of a firearm having been under surveillance by the police. Our client stated that the she was in fear and had been handed the weapon. The weapon was examined and legal argument took place as to whether the firearm was indeed a weapon or an imitation. Due to the investigation by our defence team we were able to agree a plea to a lesser offence and our client avoided a custodial sentence.
R v B - This case involved the charges of possession of firearms and ammunition. We were able to successfully challenge that the items were not firearms and advanced the defence that the items were being kept as antique ornaments.
R v D - This case involved an allegation of a possession of a weapon designed for the discharge of a noxious liquid. We were able to successfully challenge the prosecution evidence leading to the case being dismissed by the court.
If it is alleged that you have committed a firearms offence please do not hesitate to contact our specialists today without delay on 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.