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Proposed sentencing guidelines for firearms offences published

Sentencing Council launch public consultation

16 October 2019
Proposed sentencing guidelines for firearms offences published

The Sentencing Council has also launched a public consultation on sentencing guidelines to be used when sentencing firearms offences.

The aim of the guidelines, which will apply to adult offenders in England and Wales, is to ensure consistency in sentencing and appropriate sentence levels for the unlawful possession of firearms.

Firearms offences are serious. Some offences carry life imprisonment, some carry sentences of up to 10 years, and some require minimum sentences of five years, but there are currently no sentencing guidelines in the crown court and only one for use in magistrates’ courts. 

There are eight draft guidelines covering the offences below under the Firearms Act 1968:

  • Possession, purchase or acquisition of a prohibited weapon or ammunition – sections 5(1), 5(1A)
  • Possession, purchase or acquisition of a firearm/ammunition/shotgun without a certificate – sections 1(1), 2(1)
  • Possession of a firearm or ammunition by person with previous convictions prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition – section 21(4), 21(5)
  • Carrying a firearm in a public place – section 19
  • Possession of firearm with intent to endanger life – section 16
  • Possession of firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence – section 16A
  • Use of firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest/possession of firearm or imitation firearm while committing a Schedule 1 offence/carrying firearm or imitation firearm with criminal intent – sections 17(1), 17(2), 18
  • Manufacture/sell or transfer/possess for sale or transfer/purchase or acquire for sale or transfer prohibited weapon or ammunition – section 5(2A)


The Sentencing Council is consulting judges, magistrates, probation, police, prosecution and defence lawyers and others interested in the sentencing of these offences. The consultation runs until 14 January 2020. The MA will be responding to this consultation. If you have any comments please send them to Hattie Stair.

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