Ian Graham

Suspended prison sentence? Bang goes your Firearms Licence…….

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME AND POLICING ACT 2014 – Implications for Firearms Certificate holders receiving a term of imprisonment or suspended imprisonment.

Provision 110 of the above Act came into force on Monday 14 July 2014, and extended the definition of a prohibited person.

In short, the aforementioned amendment to section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 Act extended the definition of a prohibited person to include someone with a suspended sentence of three months or more from 14 July 2014.  However, the amendment also includes someone who has previously been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of between three months and three years from possessing firearms or ammunition for a period of five years.  It remains the case that someone who has previously been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of more than three years is permanently prohibited.

In practice this means that someone receiving the new qualifying sentence, on or after 14 July, should be aware that they would need to transfer or dispose of their firearm and/or ammunition following sentence.  There are however transitional provisions that enable a person with a suspended sentence to continue to possess firearms and ammunition for the remainder of a firearm certificate, if it was valid immediately before the act came into force.

This means that a person who received a suspended sentence before 14 July and already has a firearm certificate would be able to retain their firearm and ammunition for the duration of their certificate.  However, this does not apply to renewals. Therefore, when the existing certificate expires, the applicant would have to apply for a renewal.  If the applicant was still prohibited due to the period being within 5 years of the relevant sentence, the renewal would be refused as it would now be captured by the new legislation.

So this lower threshold of ‘Prohibited Person’ is likely to capture more people who legitimately hold firearms; suddenly, they are in potential difficulty of being further caught out if they are unaware of this new legislation.  Fuller guidance can be found within the Home Office Guide to Firearms Licensing Law:

Ian Graham
Colleton Chambers