Firearms Offences

Closed 14 Jan 2020

Opened 9 Oct 2019


What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines which courts in England and Wales must follow when passing a sentence. The Council consults on its proposed guidelines before they come into force and makes changes to the guidelines as a result of consultations.

What is this consultation about?

The Council is proposing to issue sentencing guidelines for the most commonly sentenced firearms offences. Currently, there is only one sentencing guideline for firearms offences: that of carrying a firearm in a public place which is included in the Magistrates Courts Sentencing Guidelines (MCSG).  There are no sentencing guidelines for firearms offences for use in the Crown Court.

The Council has produced this consultation paper in order to seek the views of as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of firearms offences.

However, it is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on sentencing these offences and not the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.

Which offences are covered by the draft guidelines?

The eight draft guidelines cover the following offences 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 – sections 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; and
  • Manufacture/sell or transfer/possess for sale or transfer/purchase or acquire for sale or transfer prohibited weapon or ammunition – section 5(2A).

What else is happening as part of the consultation process?

This is a 14 week public consultation. During the consultation period, the Council will hold a number of consultation meetings to seek views from criminal justice organisations and other groups with an interest in this area as well as sentencers. We are conducting research interviews with a sample of Crown Court judges and magistrates to ascertain how they would apply the guideline and to identify whether the guideline presents any practical difficulties for sentencers. Once results of the consultation and the research has been considered, the final guidelines will be published and used by all courts.

Alongside this consultation paper, the Council has produced a statistical bulletin and a resource assessment. These can be found on the Sentencing Council’s website:

Following the conclusion of this consultation exercise, a response will be published at:

We will treat all responses as public documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and we may attribute comments and include a list of all respondents’ names in any final report we publish. If you wish to submit a confidential response, you should contact us before sending the response. PLEASE NOTE – We will disregard automatic confidentiality statements generated by an IT system.

In addition, responses may be shared with the Justice Committee of the House of Commons.

Our privacy notice sets out the standards that you can expect from the Sentencing Council when we request or hold personal information (personal data) about you; how you can get access to a copy of your personal data; and what you can do if you think the standards are not being met.


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